Posted on January 26, 2024

Wishing Somebody a ‘Happy Australia Day’ Could Be Determined as Offensive

Tita Smith, Daily Mail, January 25, 2024

Wishing somebody a ‘Happy Australia Day’ could be regarded as offensive, according to advocates in the Indigenous community.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese was called out for using the greeting in his Australia Day speech on Friday morning.

Author Lauren Dubois said: ‘When you’re wishing ‘happy Australia Day’ on a day you know causes great pain and anguish to so many people, you are being deliberately cruel.

‘You have heard it directly from people, it’s a day of mourning. And you’re smiling and celebrating their grief?

Another said: ‘Australian day resembles a day of invasion, rape, land theft and colonisation!

‘I think it’s time we change the date so it’s not so inflammatory for indigenous civilians that endured the trauma.’

In 2019, Kado Muir, who is a leading advocate for Aboriginal culture, heritage and awareness saying ‘happy Australia day’ was an ‘ignorant gesture’.

‘This issue is extremely divisive and sensitive to all Australians,’ Mr Muir told News Limited in 2019.

‘I know White Australia is guilty and fragile. I know Black Australia is broken and angry.’

He called on Australians to rise above the ‘base destructive emotions’ in the debate and instead shift focus onto the aspects that unite the country.

Leading Aboriginal campaigner Cheree Toka said many people had traded in the term ‘Australia Day’ for ‘Survival Day’.

She said the national day of commemoration on January 26 was a sad day for First Nations people.

January 26 marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the ‘First Fleet’ to Sydney Cove, carrying mainly convicts and troops from Britain.

For many indigenous Australians, who trace their lineage on the continent back 50,000 years, it is ‘Invasion Day’, the start of Britain’s colonisation of Aboriginal lands and their brutal subjugation.

‘Celebrating Australia Day on January 26th is offensive,’ said Joe Williams, a mental health worker and former professional rugby league player.

The ‘Change The Date’ movement has escalated in recent years as growing numbers of protesters take to the streets of capital cities on the public holiday to throw their support behind Indigenous Australians.

Tens of thousands are expected to march through CBDs across the country on Friday, carrying the Aboriginal flag and banners calling for change.

Major companies and businesses have also started rethinking their branding strategies as the campaign continues to gain momentum.

In December, it was announced 80 councils had decided to scrap citizenship ceremonies on January 26 amid growing division around the national day.

Earlier this month, Woolworths sparked controversy after announcing it would no longer sell Australia Day merchandise.

‘There has been a gradual decline in demand for Australia Day merchandise from our stores over recent years. At the same time there’s been broader discussion about 26 January and what it means to different parts of the community,’ the supermarket giant, which also owns Big W stores, said.

‘We know many people like to use this day as a time to get together and we offer a huge variety of products to help customers mark the day as they choose.

‘Woolworths and BIG W celebrate the best of Australia every day, and we’re proud to support the farmers, producers, and suppliers who work with us.’

Aldi later announced it would also not be stocking any Australia-themed merchandise in its special buy section this year.

The supermarkets join Kmart after the discount store axed its Australia Day merchandise in 2023.