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Australia Day is the official name for Australia’s national day. Also referred as Foundation Day, Anniversary Day, ANA Day, Invasion Day, or Survival Day. The significance behind the commemoration has been contested and evolved over time.
See the fact file below for more information on Australia Day or alternatively, you can download our 29-page Australia Day worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
THE CONTINENT BEFORE COLONIZATION
- Studies suggest that the first human habitation of the Australian continent dates back to about 65,000 years ago. Through land bridges and sea-crossings from Southeast Asia, the continent was populated by the ancestors of Aboriginal Australians.
- Lake Mungo remains the oldest archaeological evidence that proved the existence of human remains in Australia around 41,000 years ago.
- Before the first European contact, Aboriginal Australians were hunter-gatherers. They have complex societies with a rich culture and sustainable economy through seasonal horticulture, fishing, and trade.
ORIGINS OF AUSTRALIA DAY
- Over time, the meaning and significance of Australia Day changed.
- In 1770, Captain James Cook claimed and explored New South Wales for the British. Due to the loss of the Thirteen Colonies in North America, the British explored other parts of the globe to serve as a penal colony.
- On May 13, 1787, the First Fleet, composed of 11 ships and commanded by Naval Captain Arthur Phillip, sailed from England to New Holland. They arrived at Botany Bay on the coast of New South Wales in January 1788 and found that the area was unsuitable.
- In the same month, Captain Phillip and a few of his officers travelled to Port Jackson in search of a more suitable settlement. Phillip named the landing site Sydney Cove after the 1st Viscount Sydney. On January 23, Phillip returned to Botany Bay and ordered his fleet to move to Sydney Cove. After two days of delay due to bad weather and the French ships Astrolabe and Boussole, HMS Supply that carried Phillips, some crew, and about 40 convicts left for Sydney Cove. Amidst the difficulties, all remaining British ships managed to clear Botany Bay.
- According to the account of Phillips, a landing was made at Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788.
In the evening of the 26th the colours were displayed on shore, and the Governor, with several of his principal officers and others, assembled round the flag-staff, drank the king’s health, and success to the settlement, with all that display of form which on such occasions is esteemed propitious, because it enlivens the spirits, and fills the imagination with pleasing presages.The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay
- Despite the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove on January 26, the formal establishment of the colony in New South Wales only happened on February 7, 1788, along with the proclamation of Philip’s governorship. The reigning British monarch during the vesting of all land was King George III.
- Based on the New South Wales Almanacks of 1808, January 26 was celebrated by immigrants, particularly the emancipated convicts. In 1808, drinking and merriment began at sunset on January 25. Since then, Almanacs had mentioned First Landing Day or Foundation Day.
- The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser in 1817 mentioned an unofficial gathering on January 27 to celebrate the Anniversary of the Institution of the Colony under Governor Philip. The following year, Governor Lachlan Macquarie declared the first official celebration as a holiday for all government workers. At the time, it was known as Foundation Day.
- Founded in Victoria in 1871, the Australian Natives Association (ANA) celebrated January 26 as ANA Day. In 1888, colonial capitals except Adelaide celebrated Anniversary Day. By 1910, South Australia adopted Foundation Day on 26 January in replacement of Accession Day, which was celebrated every January 22.
- Before 1888, only New South Wales celebrated Australia Day on January 26.
- As a British dominion, Australia fought in the First World War. With the aim to raise funds for the wounded Australian soldiers, a committee to celebrate a national holiday was formed. In the years 1915 to 1918, Australia Day was celebrated for fund-raising efforts for the war. In 1915, Australia Day was held on July 30.
- In 1931, Victoria adopted January 26 as Australia Day. By 1935, all states of Australia adopted Australia Day. In New South Wales, it was still called an Anniversary. Some also persisted in using Foundation Day.
- The year 1938 marked the 150th anniversary of British settlement in Australia, but as early as 1936, a Celebrations Council was formed. In 1946, the Commonwealth and state governments agreed to celebrate Australia Day every January 26.
- During the Second World War (1939-1945), most Australians identified themselves as British. However, the disintegration of the British Empire after the war led to an increase in migration to Australia. This change in non-British migration led to the emergence of Australian citizenship.
- Before 1949, anyone born or naturalized in Australia was considered a British subject. When travelling overseas, they needed British passports. In 1948, the British Nationality Act, the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act, and the Australian Nationality and Citizenship Act were passed. The following year, the South African Citizenship Act followed.
- The Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 came into effect on Australia Day, January 26, 1949, which included the use of “Australian citizen” in the Constitution.
DEBATE ABOUT AUSTRALIA DAY
- It was in 1994 when January 26 became an official public holiday.
- Australia Day is now both a day of celebration and mourning: a celebration of the founding anniversary of the First Fleet and mourning for the Aboriginal people whose land was dispossessed because of the colony.
- In 1988, the Aboriginal people in Sydney marked the commemoration as an “Invasion Day”, which destroyed indigenous culture. Protests occur every year and sometimes at Australia Day gatherings.
- Polls by the Essential Media suggest a shift in attitudes towards celebrating Australia Day. From 40% in 2019, figures of attendees declined to 34% in 2021. Moreover, about 53% of the respondents treated Australia Day as a usual public holiday in 2021.
- For the Aboriginal peoples, Australia Day is a painful and traumatic event. It reminds them of the effects of colonization since 1788 and its legacy of racial discrimination in today’s Australian society. From the perspective of the First Nations (Aboriginal people), Australia must find an inclusive date that includes all Australians.
- Another movement supports the abolition of Australia Day as a national holiday. For them, there is nothing to celebrate if the Aboriginal people continue to experience discrimination and injustice. They also argued that the current celebration of Australia Day is not reflective of the true history of the Aboriginal people.
- Australia Day is an official public holiday in every state and territory of Australia. Approximately 13 million Australians participate in celebrations each year.
- On this day, streets across Australia are filled with Australian flags representing Australian pride. Australians also hold various events across the country, such as festivals, sports contests, family days, community gatherings, concerts, and fireworks displays.
- In Sydney, a tall ships race, ferry race, flag-raising, regatta, and harbour parade are held. Citizenship Ceremonies are also commonly held across the country, and on Australia Day, a lot of people get approved to become Australian citizens.
- The Big Day Out and the Australia Day Live are annual music festivals held around the time of Australia Day.
- Major events such as the presentation of the Australian of the Year Awards and the announcement of the Australia Day Honours list are held on the eve of Australia Day.
- The Australian of the Year award is presented to an Australian citizen who is considered a role model who has made significant contributions to the Australian community.
- Other subcategories are the Citizen of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year, Sportsperson of the Year, and Australia’s Local Hero.
- Public nominations for the awards are made months before Australia Day. Anyone can submit a nomination to the Australia Day National Council.
- In 2019, grants will be provided for new activities that build on Australia Day community celebrations. Live music, interactive art, and fireworks can be enjoyed in Brisbane during Australia Day. Perth is where the largest annual fireworks celebration is held.
- In August 2017, the City of Yarra in Victoria, Australia and the City of Darebin decided that they would not hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26 anymore. The said districts will hold events commemorating Aboriginal culture instead of Australia Day.
Australia Day Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Australia Day across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Australia Day which is the official name for Australia’s national day. Also referred as Foundation Day, Anniversary Day, ANA Day, Invasion Day, or Survival Day.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Australia Day Facts
- States and Capitals
- A Day to Celebrate
- Land Down Under
- Two Faces
- Flag of Australia
- A Day of Mourning
- Symbols of Australia
- Colonial Australia
- Indigenous Australians
- A National Day
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Link will appear as Australia Day Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, March 26, 2022
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.