Introduction and activities: Australian Celebrations

Introduction

Many countries have a national day when political and social differences are put to one side and the focus is on the birth of the nation. But what do you do when that birth is seen by some of the population as a tragedy rather than cause for celebration?

When Captain James Cook first hoisted the British flag on Australian soil, the continent was seen as a terra nullius – an empty land. But this ignored the fact that Australia had a native population with roots going back thousands of years. For Aboriginal Australians the arrival of European settlers was a traumatic experience from which they are only recently recovering. An important element in this recovery is an acknowledgement by white Australians of the wrongs of the past.

Exercise

  1. What is the typical Australian way of celebrating Australia Day?
  2. What world record was attempted at Bondi Beach?
  3. What exactly does Australia Day celebrate?
  4. Why might Aboriginal Australians feel there is little to celebrate?
  5. How do statistics show that Aboriginal Australians still have a way to go before they achieve equality with white Australians?