Australia Day is a day for all of us to reflect, respect and celebrate.  It is the official national day of Australia. Observed annually on 26 January, it marks the 1788 landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove and raising of the Union Flag by Arthur Phillip following days of exploration of Port Jackson in New South Wales.

In modern day Australia Australia, celebrations aim to reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation and are marked by community and family events, reflections on Australian history, official community awards and citizenship ceremonies welcoming new members to the Australian community.

Australia Day we celebrate all the things we love about Australia: land, sense of fair go, lifestyle, democracy, the freedoms we enjoy but particularly our people. Australia Day is about acknowledging and celebrating the contribution that every Australian makes to our contemporary and dynamic nation.

From our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – who have been here for more than 65,000 years – to those who have lived here for generations, to those who have come from all corners of the globe to call Australia home.

This is our home and this is our country now. Our first generation born and grown up in this country breathing Australian air adopting Australian culture and are Aussies now. They are not going back where they came from.

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.

The date of 26 January 1788 marked the proclamation of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia (then known as New Holland). 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 use of the term “Australia Day” to mark the date, and not until 1994 that the date was consistently marked by a public holiday on that day by all states and territories.

In contemporary Australia Australia Day is also marked by the presentation of the Australian of the Year Awards on Australia Day Eve, announcement of the Australia Day Honours list.  With community festivals, concerts and citizenship ceremonies, the day is celebrated in large and small communities and cities around the nation.

Australia Day has become the biggest annual civic event in Australia.

For many people, Australia Day is about celebrating the values, freedoms and pastimes of this country. It’s a time for BBQs in the backyard, having a beer with mates, and proudly flying the Australian flag. On the surface, Australia Day seems to be about unifying all people who call Australia home, and yet ironically it’s a divisive day for many.

Although celebrations originally focused on the anniversary of the British occupation of New South Wales, since 1979, the federal government has promoted an Australia Day that is less British and more Australian in the hope of unifying Australia’s increasingly diverse population.

Community Youth & Citizen Development organisation Inc (CYCDO), a nonprofit organisation, went to some of Australia’s iconic venues and collected some native Australian’s speeches. CYCDO also made a survey regarding Australia Day. The survey reflected negative and positive views of Australians about Australia Day.

My personal view is, we need to work very hard with the National Australia Day Council and with all other groups to establish reflect, respect and celebrate this great land.

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