26 January is not a day for celebration
Rather than commemorating something essential about the Australian people, 26 January signifies the beginning of generations of genocide, dispossession and cruelty, in order to address prison overcrowding on the other side of the world. That’s something to remember, but not to celebrate.
Australia Day should be a day everyone can celebrate. Our First Nations brothers and sisters have told us clearly that this is painful for them. To continue to celebrate on 26 January knowing we’re causing harm is not just disrespectful, but easily avoided.
In Australia, most of us enjoy a quality of life other people around the world can only dream of. Together we are building a country in which all people can live peacefully, receive a good education, access high quality healthcare and enjoy a good life with their families.
This is worth celebrating!
This is why staff at Victorian Trades Hall Council have resolved to work on Friday 26 January this year and nominated a replacement holiday for 2 February.
The date of Australia Day is not set in stone. Australia Day, under different guises, has been celebrated in the past on 24 May, 30 July, 28 December, and a host of other days in different states. In fact, for what it’s worth, 26 January has only been recognised as a public holiday across the country since 1994.
While some will join with conservative politicians and right wing media in expressing outrage at the idea of changing the date, we believe most Australians are the kind of people who will happily take a day off and eat a sausage in bread on whatever day suits all our mates.
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters stand with us for wage justice and a fairer society 365 days a year. The least we can do is show a bit of solidarity in return on one of those days. At Trades Hall we’re taking matters into our own hands and changing the date we celebrate Australia Day, and we encourage others to join us.
We stand with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers in calling for Treaties & justice for for First Nations peoples.
Victorian Trades Hall Council will be open during business hours on Friday 26 January. Staff will attend the protest planned on the steps of Victorian Parliament at 11am. For more information on this and other events, visit https://www.welcometocountry.org/calendar/2018-invasion-day-australia-day-protests/