CEO message: We need a unifying date for our national celebration

Australia Day will be marked differently around the country. CMY acknowledges that Australia Day on 26 January is a day of sadness and pain for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, marking the beginning of their dispossession in 1788. It represents a day of mourning and sorrow.

Many of the refugee and migrant young people and communities we work closely with relate to such devastating experiences of dispossession, disconnection and alienation.

We recognise there is much more to be done, as a nation, than simply changing the date. It will never be a solution to the ongoing, complex and damaging impacts of colonisation that form part of Australia’s story; it is only a starting point, one that if all Australians can embrace, will bring us a step closer in our journey to reconciliation.

On 26 January, we encourage our staff, volunteers and the communities we work alongside and consider this an opportunity for deep reflection and learning. To take the time to read about Australia’s history and the significance of this day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, attend an Invasion Day or Survival Day event, listen to different perspectives on what the day symbolises for people and what difference changing the date would make.

As an organisation, we are committed to an ongoing process of learning and reconciliation. In 2020, CMY bought together a team of dedicated individuals forming an action group to lead the creation of our Reconciliation Action Plan which will be launched this year. We have commenced First Peoples’ cultural training, and we are being supported and guided on our reconciliation journey with input from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultants and Elders. We know we have much work to be done as an organisation, but we are open, willing and ready for change.

The current date has been a difficult symbol, not just for Indigenous communities but also for a lot of migrant and refugee young people who are looking to our leaders to find a unifying date that marks the celebration of who we are as Australians and acknowledges our First Nation Peoples’. 

CMY joins with others to call for a change of date for Australia Day. 

Carmel Guerra OAM
Chief Executive Officer