Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Australia Day: a celebration for some but sorrowful reflection for others

By Jackie Huggins - posted Wednesday, 4 February 2004

Australia Day means different things to different people and this is especially true for the First Australians.

For many Indigenous Australians 26 January is an occasion to reflect on past loss and suffering.

There are also people in the wider community who share these mixed feelings about our national day and they are keen to acknowledge that Australia Day evokes a variety of emotions.


Today, organisers of Australia Day events are more mindful of Indigenous heritage and culture, and of the continuing problems faced in Indigenous communities.

Our national day is an important annual opportunity to recognise the honoured place of Indigenous Australians in our nation’s history, and to promote understanding, respect and reconciliation.

It is also a time for each Australian to think about our identity, the many aspects of Australian life that give us pride and areas where we have the opportunity to make the nation stronger for the future.

These reflections are individual and special to each Australian.

Even when my dream of reconciliation comes true, Australia Day will still evoke mixed feelings.

My own feelings about the day do not reflect any lack of loyalty or commitment to Australia – quite the contrary. They are about very deep emotions I have about this country and my people, about great wrongs in our shared history, and important steps that need to be taken to make things right.


Each year on Australia Day, I take myself somewhere quiet where I can sit and think.

It’s a day of reflection and mourning, a time to think about what the invasion of their country meant for my ancestors, and on the terrible suffering that continues for many Indigenous Australians. It wouldn’t make any difference if the date of Australia Day changed – this is what the day represents for me.

It may seem strange that someone as optimistic as I am should use this day to focus on the negatives, but for one day each year I allow myself to think this way.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

1 post so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Jackie Huggins is Deputy Director of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Unit at the University of Queensland and Co-chair of Reconciliation Australia.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Jackie Huggins
Related Links
Reconciliation Australia
Photo of Jackie Huggins
Article Tools
Comment 1 comment
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy