CEO Message: Changing the Date

Since becoming a national public holiday in 1994, Australia Day has often been a chance for many of us to gather with family and friends to enjoy barbeques or music festivals together. We come together to celebrate Australia as a nation and a people on January 26, a date that marks the anniversary of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove and the raising of the Union Flag in 1788.

Yet, as many of you are well aware, there is a growing acknowledgement that the flip side of this coin is that January 26 also marks the commencement of colonisation and deep trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People – a people who have called this place home for more than 60,000 years and for whom this date represents a day of mourning.

CMY’s organisational commitment to learning, growth, and reconciliation – including the development and endorsement of our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) over the past year – reminds us that this date is not an inclusive day of celebrating Australia for everyone.

We support the call for Australia Day to be observed on an alternative and inclusive date – a date for all to celebrate the lands First Nation Peoples nurtured and respected before us. 

On this day we take pause for reflection, respect and reconciliation. We encourage our staff, volunteers and the communities we work alongside to take the time to deepen their understanding of Australia’s history and the significance of this day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Learning and understanding about this important issue can be achieved through conversation, sharing and self-education. Resources such as the NITV and SBS network’s week-long programming which explores what it means to be Australian, can be a great start, and other resources that consider what difference changing the date would make.

As a multicultural community, we can have pride and gratitude to call Australia our home. However, we need also to observe that we are beneficiaries of an Australia built on a suffering and inequality that undoubtedly continues today.

We look forward to a time when we have a unifying date that marks the celebration of who we are as Australians and acknowledges the history and experiences of First Nation Peoples.