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Australia Day - worth celebrating?

Monday 30th January 2012

Every year on the 26th January many Australians celebrate Australia Day, but some don't. Why?

Australia Day, which falls on the 26th January, is the national day of Australia. The day commemorates the arrival of the British to Sydney in 1788. The first fleet of 11 convict ships arrived from Great Britain on this day.

It's now the biggest national celebration. It's a day of celebrating Australian citizenship and pride in the country; reflecting on the past, but looking towards the future too and what Australia will bring.

Australia Day has grown in popularity since the late 1980s, and is now a unified public holiday across the country. If you are in Australia for Australia Day, you will know about it! Barbecues, fireworks, parties, dancing - it's all going on. In Sydney, a boat race is held in the harbour. Other states hold sports competitions or music festivals.

However Australia Day is not without it's controversy. Some Australians, particularly those of indigenous heritage refer to Australia Day by different names including Invasion Day or Survival Day. For them Australia Day also marks the loss of indigenous culture and heritage, and is seen as a day of survival - to ensure that the remaining indigenous population is not wiped out now and in the future. Invasion Day protests invariably occur every year.

2012 was no different. The Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, had to be rescued after angry protesters surrounded her. The protests emerged after there was discussion about taking the Canberra's Aboriginee Tent Embassy, which is marking its 40th year in state, down.

So if you are lucky enough to be in Australia next year for Australia Day, please do enjoy the celebrations, but remember to take time to think about the other side to the story too.

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