Australia Day, a day for all Australians

WHAT ARE YOU COOKING THIS AUSTRALIA DAY… Shepparton Barbeque’s Galore owner, Jason Bathman is ready to cook up a storm this Australia Day weekend. Photo: Katelyn Morse.

On January 26, we officially recognise it as Australia day. It marks the day the First Fleet arrived in Port Jackson, New South Wales and the raising of the British flag by Governor Arthur Phillip.

It is the day now marked by citizenship ceremonies around the country welcoming new members to the Australian community.

Across the Goulburn Valley region, dozens of ceremonies celebrating Australia day are being held.

The meaning and significance of Australia Day has evolved and been contested over time, and not all states have celebrated the same date as their date of historical significance. Unofficially, or historically, the date has also been variously named Anniversary Day, Foundation Day and ANA Day.

Although it was not known as Australia Day until over a century later, records of celebrations on 26 January date back to 1808, with the first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales held in 1818. On New Year’s Day 1901, the British colonies of Australia formed a federation, marking the birth of modern Australia. A national day of unity and celebration was looked for. It was not until 1935 that all Australian states and territories adopted the use of the term ‘Australia Day’ to mark the date, and it was not until 1994 that the date was consistently marked as a public holiday on that day by all states and territories.

It is also the day when the Australian Honours are presented as they are at a local level in most shires and councils. It has become the day of the biggest civic event in Australia.

Since at least 1938, the date of Australia Day has also been marked by Indigenous Australians as a day of mourning to what they see as an invasion of their land by Europeans and protesting its celebration as a national holiday.

These groups sometimes refer to 26 January as Invasion Day, Survival Day, or Day of Mourning, to observe it as a counter-celebration and advocate that the date should be changed,or that the holiday should be abolished entirely.