A majority of voters don’t know why Australia Day is held on January 26 and wouldn’t mind if the official National Day of Australia was moved to a different date.
New polling by Research Now also reveals that only about a third of Australians — 37 per cent — realise the date, which marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, is offensive to Indigenous people because it represents the commencement of the British colonisation that led to the dispossession and persecution of Australian Aborigines.
The survey of 1417 people suggests that nearly all Australians — 84 per cent — think it is important that the country has a national day of celebration.
But 56 per cent say they are flexible about when the day occurs, challenging the assumption that Australians see January 26 as unchangeable.
Although recent Australia Day ceremonies aim to welcome and celebrate diverse members of the community with the Australian of the Year Awards and the Australia Day Honours list, the political and community debate about the “change the date” movement continues to intensify.
Indigenous Australian groups have referred to the date as “Invasion Day” and “Survival Day” and other groups have protested the celebrations, suggesting various measures from flag burning to moving Australia Day to an alternate date.