Why wait? We can change the date ourselves

Why wait? We can change the date ourselves
Rebecca Smith

Did you know that organisations and businesses all over the country are changing the date themselves?

Australia is a fantastic country and deserves to be celebrated, but we need to have a good hard look at our choice of date.

The 26th of January was chosen as the date of Australia Day because it was the day the first British ships arrived in what we now call New South Wales. For Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders this date represents the beginning of their dispossession.


That date represents a day of mourning for First Nations Peoples. Increasingly, many other Australians recognise the insensitivity of the date and are advocating for change. A recent survey by the City of Melbourne showed that 60 per cent of residents and businesses supported changing the date.


Here at Kensington Neighbourhood House, we will be open for business as usual on January 26 next year. Our staff and board unanimously voted to observe an Australia Day holiday on July 3, 2023 instead – the start of NAIDOC week.

This was a surprisingly easy step to take. First, we checked our Collective Agreement to see if there was anything to prevent us changing a holiday date. There wasn’t. Then we surveyed staff to see if they would be happy to change the date. They were. Then we proposed a new date and took this to our board for approval. Job done.

If you are an employer, why not investigate changing the date within your organisation? If you are an employee, why not talk to your colleagues and your boss about exploring this idea? Every conversation on this topic is a step in the right direction.

Changing the date is a small but important part of our reconciliation journey. Another important step is making reconciliation a regular discussion point in our community. A number of Kensington organisations – including KNH, Unison, The Venny and Kensington Community Children’s Cooperative have formed a Kensington Reconciliation Group. All community members are welcome to attend. The group is small and informal. Conversation focuses on what reconciliation might look like for Kensington and how to make a meaningful contribution to reconciliation at a local level.

Despite a growing chorus of support for an official change to the Australia Day date, it could take a long time for any decision from federal government. Why wait? Change the date yourself!

If you are interested in celebrating Australia on a different day, you’ll find a wealth of useful information here: changeitourselves.com.au

If you would like to join the Kensington Reconciliation Group, please contact: [email protected] The next gathering is at 6.30pm, September 28 at Kensington Neighbourhood House. •

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