This might come as something of a surprise, given that there’s a handful of people out there who are extremely vocal about keeping Australia Day on January 26th, but a new poll conducted by a Canberra-based think-tank states that over half of Australians do not particularly mind when the day itself is held.
The poll, conducted by the Australia Institute, states that 56% of those who responded are chill with holding Australia Day on any ole’ day, provided that the nation does indeed get a day to celebrate itself.
A further 49% of people surveyed asserted that Australia Day should not be held on a day that is offensive to Indigenous Australians.
The poll, however, also revealed a distinct lack of understanding about the history of the Australia Day celebrations, and what historical event the date marks to begin with.
Only 38% of those polled correctly identified the First Fleet landing at Sydney Cove as the “official” reason behind holding Australia Day on January 26. While a whopping 77% of respondents incorrectly believed that Australia Day had always been held on January 26.
Ebony Bennett, deputy director of the Australia Institute, stated that it was likely that this lack of education on the matter was why the majority of Australians were laid back about what date the observance was actually held on.
This polling shows that while Australia Day is important to most Australians, most people are laid back about the date we celebrate on. The polling shows that most Australians don’t know what historical event Australia Day commemorates and most people are not aware it wasn’t always celebrated on this date. Perhaps that’s why more than half of Australians say they don’t really mind when we hold Australia Day, as long as we do.
The national conversation about Australia Day is an opportunity for all of us to learn about and reflect on Australia’s history, especially the more than fifty thousand years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, and to ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be in the future.
Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale leapt on the polling results earlier this morning, amid his party’s renewed push to get the official date changed.
What it does demonstrate is there is a great opportunity to move the nation forward, to choose a day that allows us to celebrate all the things that it means to be Australian.
The full results of the poll, which surveyed a representative group of 1,417 Australians, can be found via the Australia Institute’s website.