Celebrate Australia Day — The Day We All Became Australians

Captain Cook did not arrive in Australia on the 26th of January.

The Landing of Captain Cook in Sydney happened on the 28th of April 1770 – not on the 26th of January 1770. The First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay on the 18th of January. The 26th was chosen as Australia Day for a different reason; however, the Botany Bay landing was included in Australia Day celebrations as a reminder of a significant historical event.

 

Since the extravagant bicentenary celebrations of 1988, when Sydney-siders decided the Botany Bay landing should become the focus of the Australia Day commemoration, the importance of this date for all Australians has begun to fade.

Now, a generation later, it’s all but lost.

This is because our politicians and educators have not been doing a good job promoting the day. Our politicians have not been advertising the real reason for Australia Day, and our educators have not been teaching our children the importance of the 26th of January to all Australians.

The media, as usual, is happy to twist the truth for the sake of controversy.

In recent years, the media has helped fan the flames of discontent among the Aboriginal community. Many are now so offended by what they see as a celebration of the beginning of the darkest days of Aboriginal history, they want the date changed.

Various local Councils are seeking to remove themselves from Australia Day celebrations, even refusing to participate in citizenship ceremonies, and calls are going out to have Australia Day on a different day.

The big question is, why has the Government allowed this misconception to continue?

The First Fleet didn’t land on the 26th of January. So changing the date of any celebration of the Botany Bay landing would not have any impact on Australia Day, but maybe it would clear the way for the truth about Australia Day.

Governor Phillip officially claimed the land he was on as a British colony on the 26th of January, 1788.

The reality is, the Aborigines in this country suffered terribly under the hands of British colonialism. This is as much Australia’s history as the landing of the first fleet, and both should be remembered, equally. Both should be taught, side by side, in our schools.

Australians of today abhor what was done under British governance to the Aborigines. We abhor what was done under British governance to the Irish and many other cultures around the world. So, after the horrors of WWII we decided to fix it.

We became our own people.

On the 26th of January 1949, the Australian nationality came into existence when the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 was enacted. That was the day we were first called Australians and allowed to travel with Passports as Australians.

Before that special date, all people living in Australia, including Aborigines born after 1921, were called ‘British Subjects’ and forced to travel on British Passports and fight in British wars.

(Under the Nationality Act 1920 (Cth), all Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders born after January 1, 1921 gained the status of British subjects. In 1949, therefore, they automatically became Australian citizens under the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948.)

We all became Australians on the same day!

This is why we celebrate Australia Day on the 26th of January!

This was the day Australians became free to make our own decisions about which wars we would fight and how our citizens would be treated. It was the day Aborigines were declared Australians.

Until this date, Aborigines were not protected by law. For the first time since the beginning of British governance, this new Act gave Aboriginal Australians by inference and precedent the full protection of Australian law.

Because of this Act, the government became free to help Aborigines, and since that day much has been done to assist Aboriginal Australians, including saying ‘sorry’ for the previous atrocities done before this law came into being.

This was a great day for all Australians!

This is why the 26th of January is the day new Australians receive their citizenship. It is a day which celebrates the implementation of the Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1948 – the Act which gave freedom and protection to the first Australians and gives all Australians, old and new, the right to live under the protection of Australian Law, united as one nation.

Now, isn’t that cause for celebration?

Education is key! There is a great need for education on the real reason we celebrate Australia Day on the 26th of January. This reason needs to be advertised and taught in schools. We all need to remember this one very special day in Australia’s history, when freedom came to all Australians.

What was achieved that day is something for which all Australians can be proud!

We need to remember both the good and the bad in our history, but the emphasis must be the freedom and unity all Australians now have, because of what was done on the 26th of January 1949, to allow all of us to live without fear in a land of peace.

Isn’t it time all Australians were taught the real reason we celebrate Australia Day?

[Photo by Joey Csunyo on Unsplash]

About the Author:

Monica Bennett-Ryan is a Christian Author and whistle-blower. While working within one of Australia’s intelligence organisations, Monica, and two other dedicated Christians, witnessed things they shouldn’t have seen. They were sworn to secrecy and could’ve been prosecuted for revealing what they knew. The evidence to back their claims was inaccessible; locked away in secret Defence computer files. Nevertheless, on 16 May 2011, they made a bold decision to take what they knew to the media, then watched in awe as God not only protected them from prosecution but exposed the greatest intelligence scandal in Australia’s history. It’s a remarkable story. You can read more at In His Name.

73 Comments

  1. Ian Heard January 25, 2020 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Not ‘the aboriginals in this country’—but then aborigines in this country.’ Aboriginal is an adjective—as in ‘aboriginal art’ or ‘aboriginal culture.’ The people are aborigines!

  2. Ian Heard January 25, 2020 at 9:35 am - Reply

    Not ‘the aboriginals in this country’—but ‘the aborigines in this country.’ Aboriginal is an adjective—as in ‘aboriginal art’ or ‘aboriginal culture.’ The people are aborigines!

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan January 26, 2020 at 7:28 am - Reply

      Thank you Ian, for pointing out this error. I’ve have corrected my mistake.

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan January 26, 2020 at 8:07 am - Reply

      Thank you Ian for pointing this out. I have corrected my error.

    • Shae January 27, 2020 at 12:56 am - Reply

      Aboriginals is correct. Ian you are wrong. Aborigine is an outdated term in the Australian context and should not be used. Check any Aboriginal representative organisation, any government site at any level of Aust govt and you will find in every case the word used for the indigenous people of this land is Aboriginal.

      • Sue Forbes February 2, 2020 at 5:12 pm - Reply

        “Aboriginals” may be politically correct, but it is grammatically incorrect. ” Aborigine(s)” is the noun. We pedants agree with Ian. He is right.

  3. Beverley Bakewell January 25, 2020 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    Thank you for bringing this out in the open! However, Australia still required decisions to be signed off by the Privy Council up until the 1970s my apologies for not knowing the correct year!

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan January 26, 2020 at 8:04 am - Reply

      Thanks Beverley, yes, the Government is a slow moving machine. It takes time to work out all the details. One of the reasons for the slowness of transition in some areas was the need for Australian laws to be ratified in England. It wasn’t until the Australia Act of 1986, that Australia became free to change our laws without receiving approval/permission from the English Parliament.

      • Phil January 28, 2020 at 4:36 pm - Reply

        If we must change the date of Australia Day celebration to appeas a minority then let’s have a referendum ,I think January 1st ,that’s when we became a nation rather than just a gaggle of states 1Jan 1901

  4. Pamela Dixon January 25, 2020 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    This a fantastic reminder of what we should all be really celebrating on Australia Day. Excellent article!

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan January 26, 2020 at 8:05 am - Reply

      Thank you Pamela. Yes! I believe being free to call ourselves Australian is a great cause for celebration!

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan January 26, 2020 at 7:46 am - Reply

      Hi Leonie, We are all taught at school that Captain Cook discovered Australia in 1770, and Governor Phillip officially claimed the land for England on 26 January 1788. However, all Australians need to know it wasn’t until 1946, after WWII, that Australia Day was first introduced as a day of celebration, with the view that the new Nationality and Citizenship Act would finally allow all the people living in Australia to be called, Australians.

  5. Bevan January 26, 2020 at 1:27 am - Reply

    I find your article a bit of a ‘white wash’ making it sound as if from 26th January 1949 (the 1948 act) everything was much better for both us and the Aboriginal people. Yet they weren’t even awarded citizenship until 1967. Maybe you need to chat with more First people’s to hear their views.

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan January 26, 2020 at 7:25 am - Reply

      Hi Bevan, Aborigines became Australian citizens under the Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1948, but it took a while for the government to work out a few details, like whether Aborigines, many of whom at that time could not write or understand politics, should be compelled to vote. It’s not a case of denying full citizenship, but working out the wrinkles, like how to encourage Aboriginal Australians to understand the need to register the birth of their children. This is still a work in progress.

    • Sue Grahame January 26, 2020 at 9:51 am - Reply

      I totally agree wit you it was the 1967 referendum that counted the Indigenous population as people not part of the Flora and Fauna as the British did prior to that date! It was ok for The Indigenous people were free to fight in all wars but on return they were controlled by the Government at all times!
      To this day the stolen generations are continuing it is blot on the whole country!
      Yes I say move the date! It is not reflective of our whole society! Only reflects the 230 years of Colonialism not the 60,000+ years of cultural living!

  6. Tamati January 26, 2020 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Until 1978 a licence to kill Aboriginal people could still be obtained in the northern territories as they were counted as a pest lower than animals. Not making this up have seen the licence.

    As a fellow Christian, it is our job to stand and fight for the oppressed not jump up and down on the grave and justify by arguing semantics. We as the church perpetuated their pain by driving the mad theory of the doctrine of discovery.

    Aborigine people where below Flora and Fauna in 1967 they were legally bought under the govt of the day by being included in the ministry for fisheries. Regardless the day the brutal history must be acknowledged and the body of Christ takes its place as the fighter for the oppressed.

    We are not here to collect a tithe but to serve the people. Christ was an ethnic Jew a brown man from the middle East. Not a European man looking at the world through a western lens lest we forget in the words of the ANZACS.

  7. Tamati January 26, 2020 at 11:13 am - Reply

    I can not believe I am reading your replies Monica!! Ironing out wrinkles by exterminating culture and people and wholesale theft of land. You can not be serious this is a sophisticated society over 60,000 years old that was just overlooked. Simply breathtaking as a fellow Christian your words and associated action heartbreaking. If you have not seen take a look at the book the biggest estate on earth by Bill Gammage I think it pay you some heed to read it. It has won numerous awards in Australia

    https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/general-books/history/The-Biggest-Estate-on-Earth-Bill-Gammage-9781743311325

    • Andy January 27, 2020 at 5:01 pm - Reply

      Until quite recently i understood that aboriginals where classed as flora prior to 1968 however recent research has led me to understand this classification did not exist rather it was an ironic comment as to what aboriginal people were prior to this date Aboriginals rights in legislations varied considerably from state with some stated taking considerably longer then others.

      • Albert January 30, 2020 at 7:24 am - Reply

        It’s “Aboriginal people” not aborigines which is deemed offensive…

  8. Jonathan Lee January 26, 2020 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    Goodness me good try but no banana . The 1948 ‘ British Nationality and Australian citizenship Act did not introduce Australian Nationality – read section 7 of the original Act – it SPECIFIES that all ‘ Australian Citizens remain British subjects and BRITISH nationals .

  9. Caleb Burke January 26, 2020 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    You mentioned that “Governor Phillip officially claimed the land for England on 26 January 1788”, and then proceeded to mention that “on the 26th of January 1949 the Australian nationality came into existence when the ‘Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948’ was enacted”.

    While I agree that it would be great to commemorate a time where all peoples were recognized as equal, wouldn’t you agree that Governor Phillip claiming the land on the same day overshadows this fact, as I am sure for some aboriginal peoples this date is a time of mourning.

    Further I remember reading that “In 1818, January 26 became an official holiday, marking the 30th anniversary of British settlement in Australia.” With this fact, is it still valid to say Australia Day is a product of equality despite being founded on discrimination.

    I think that these contrasting events occurring on the same date become a catalyst for many debates on the topic, and such would value your opinion on top of your article.

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan January 28, 2020 at 8:43 am - Reply

      Caleb, from what I understand, Arthur Phillip, arrived with the First Fleet, on 18th January 1788, and a week later proclaimed the land he was on (Sydney) as the first settlement of the Colony. He didn’t have the authority to claim Australia for Britain, nor did he need to claim it. Eighteen years earlier Captain Cook officially raised the British flag and took possession of the entire Eastern half of the continent as a British Colony on Possession Island on 22 August, 1770. This means that the 22nd of August was the day Britain claimed Australia as a possession. So, there are many dates relating to the coming of the British to Australia, but there is only ONE date that gave all people living on Australian soil, including Aboriginals the right to be called Australians. That date is worth both remembering and celebrating!

      • Peter January 28, 2020 at 6:35 pm - Reply

        Monica, Love the article. I’m stuck at one point though. Was there any evidence connecting the change from Anniversary Day to AUSTRALIA Day in 1946 and connection to the legislation changes 2 years later in 1948? It would seem AUSTRALIA Day was tied to the claiming of SYDNEY as a colony rather than the 1948 legislation… unless evidence connects the two in or before 1946. This to me is the lynchpin to your article.

      • Albert January 30, 2020 at 7:35 am - Reply

        The first of the first fleet arrived in Botany Bay 18 Jan 1788 and later relocated to Port Jackson 26 Jan, renamed Sydney Cove and claimed the land for Britain. Conflict began in 1790 between the Aboriginal people and the British.

  10. Alex Dunnin January 26, 2020 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    “In recent years, the media has helped fan the flames of discontent among the Aboriginal community.” Of course. Has to be the media’s fault.

  11. Robert January 26, 2020 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Great article Monica it clarifies the historical facts it should be given emphasis in school curriculums.
    The only thing l would add would be that “the
    British Colonists were moderate for their time.”
    Yes they were harsh, one only has to visit Port Arthur to see the tyranny inflicted on white convicts and aboriginals alike.
    Those days are long gone and future generations must unify if Australia is to survive.

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan January 28, 2020 at 9:00 am - Reply

      Robert, yes, it was a brutal world back then but I can’t agree that the atrocities they committed could ever be called moderate. What they did in many cases was sadistic in the extreme and could not be called anything but inhuman. However, I totally agree that the only way forward is to strive for peace and unity, as one people.

  12. Geoff January 26, 2020 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    This article is utter rubbish.

    Australia Day has been celebrated in some form on January 26th since 1808. Well before 1948!

    Australia Day is celebrated 2 days after the arrival of the first fleet arrived as that is when the British declared sovereignty.

    This misguided article is simply trying to garner support for keeping the date with a healthy dose of “creative licensing”.

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan January 28, 2020 at 9:07 am - Reply

      Geoff, British sovereignty wasn’t declared over Australia until Captain Cook took official possession of the entire Eastern half of the continent on Possession Island, on 22 August, 1788. All Arthur Phillip did, on 26 January, 1788, was claim the land he was on, Sydney, as the sight of the first colony. Sydney does not represent the whole of Australia.

  13. Jan Holland January 26, 2020 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    Sue Grahame, You are wrong in saying the Aborigines were considered to be flora and fauna.
    http://www.abc.net.au › news › fact-check-flora-and-fauna-1967-referendum
    Fact check: Were Indigenous Australians classified under a …
    Mar 19, 2018 – Ms Clanton’s claim is a myth. Aboriginal people in Australia have never been covered by a flora and fauna act, either under federal or state law.

  14. Jan Holland January 26, 2020 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    A great story Monica. Thank you so much.

  15. James Wheeler January 27, 2020 at 7:59 am - Reply

    Jan Holland, wow! This fact check is a real eye-opener for me. As the article said, there is so much other wrong in how Aborigines were treated, but myths can add unnecessary trauma.

    here is the complete link:

    https://www.google.com/amp/amp.abc.net.au/article/9550650

    https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-20/fact-check-flora-and-fauna-1967-referendum/9550650

  16. Deborah Blackbourn January 27, 2020 at 8:34 am - Reply

    I liked this article so much, I shared it. Then a friend questioned its accuracy… “Oh dear this is not quite accurate. The first fleet arrived in Sydney on the 26th January 1788 (after pulling in to Botany Bay)and presumably they timed the legislation to match the settlement in Farm Cove. And by the way, Cook didn’t come into Sydney only Botany Bay.” Where did you get your information from that we can fact check these two points. Thanks for your help.

  17. Tracy January 27, 2020 at 8:46 am - Reply

    So Aboriginals were citizens, who were not included in the nation census and this required an amendment to our constitution , until the 1967, referrundum, and who all didn’t have the right to vote until 1965……

    The voting rights of Indigenous Australians became an issue from the mid-19th century, when responsible government was being granted to Britain’s Australian colonies, and suffrage qualifications were being debated. The resolution of universal rights progressed into the mid-20th century.

    Indigenous Australians began to acquire voting rights along with other adults living in the Australian colonies from the late-19th century.[1] Other than in Queensland and Western Australia, Indigenous men acquired the vote alongside their non-Indigenous counterparts in the Australian colonies. In South Australia, Indigenous women also acquired the vote from 1895 onward.

    Following Australian Federation in 1901, the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 restricted Aboriginal voting rights in federal elections. For a time Aboriginal people could vote in some states and not in others, though from 1949, Aboriginal people could vote if they were or had been servicemen. In 1962, the Menzies Government (1949–1966) amended the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to enable all Indigenous Australians to enrol to vote in Australian federal elections. In 1965, Queensland became the last state to remove restrictions on Indigenous voting in state elections, and as a consequence all Indigenous Australians in all states and territories had equal voting rights at all levels of government.[2]

    Many restrictions on voting rights only applied to some people that would, today, be considered Indigenous. Specifically, only people of full Indigenous ancestry or of mixed race “in whom the aboriginal blood preponderates” were limited through the Franchise Act. It did not apply to Indigenous people of mixed race that were, to use the language of the time, ‘half-castes’ or less. In practice, some local electoral officials may have denied enrolment to a broader range of Indigenous people than those formally excluded.[3]

  18. Tracy January 27, 2020 at 8:50 am - Reply

    The passports were part of a British/ UN initiative, after WW2, to monitor all travel, through the region, as many were not officially British citizens.

  19. Tracy January 27, 2020 at 8:52 am - Reply

    In 1935, our rights to be self governed and not have the British government overturn anything, including Australian law, didn’t happen until 1986.

  20. Mark Paul January 27, 2020 at 9:08 am - Reply

    Thank you Monica for having a Great Go at Clarifying the Reason for the Date Currently Observed.. though Clearly from Many Comments the Old Saying Continues.. “You Can’t Please Everybody”.
    Unquestionably Australia has a Dark Past under the Colonialism of British Rule of Poor even Horrific Human Rights.. Not Just of the Aboriginal Occupiers of the Land on its Discovery but also the Many Subjects of the UK that for the Crime of Stealing a Piece of Bread to Survive were Subjected to the Tearing away from Family, Friends & Homeland & thrown on a Floating Filthy Prison & sent away Never to be seen or heard of again.
    Yes it was a Horrific Human Rights Period for Many Poor Souls Regardless of the Color of your Skin or Where you came from.

    That Said.. Had Australia not been Discovered by a Nation that had the.. ‘HOLY BIBLE’.. Etched into Its History.. Existence..& Law.. those Deplorable Human Rights would Not have been able to be Challenged & Eventually in the Hands & Hearts of a Few Good Men.. Committed to the BIBLE.. Overturned to bring Great Change to those Human Rights.
    It is by No Stretch of the Imagination to assume that based on the testimonies of Several Then & Now.. ‘NON-BIBLE’.. Respecting Nations.. had They Discovered Australia, there would Not habe been One Aboriginal left Alive.. Their Primitive Life Existence being seen as too great a risk of mixing with such Deemed Further Advanced Nations.

    Sadly, such Consolation is Never Acknowledged.. Nor the Amazing Opportunities & Benefits that Many Aborinal folk have Received from Gradual Greater Equality Advancement.. Land & Untold Financial Granting since 1948 & 1967.. Nor is Such Acknowledgement Found in the Aboriginal Community Insistence of.. ‘Another Flag & People’.. a Huge Factor that Continues to Create its Own Racism.. Bold Testimony & Public Declaration that They are.. ‘Not Australians’.. but a Seperate People Rejecting of One Nation Assimilation.. that Continues to Fuel the Division & Racism Narrative.

    Those Part of the Past Problems & Dark History are ALL Gone.. Dead & Returned to the Dust.. & Those Remaining Boldly Do Not Share the Intolerance, Brutality & Inhuman Riights of those Earlier Generations.. & It’s High Time that the Aboriginal People Acknowledge Such Fact.. & that Many Many UK Subjects Also Suffered Brutal Persecution & Death at the Hands of Evil Men & Not Remain in what can be a Selfish Prolonging of such Past.. but Look with Full 2020 Vision at the Now Far Brighter Future They Have.. By Being ‘Australians’ .. with an.. ‘Attitude of Gratitude’.. Thankful for Those Opportunities.. as One Nation & One People.. Not Continually Resurrecting the Past but Only Recognising the Future & Removing ALL Obstacles in its way.

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan January 28, 2020 at 7:37 am - Reply

      I agree, Mark. The atrocities done to Aborigines were also done to the Irish and the Chinese (indeed anyone who was not considered ‘British’), who suffered wholesale slaughter or imprisonment at the whimsy of any British authority. This dark time for non-Aborigines is pretty much ignored by the media and Aboriginal activists. Colonialism was undeniably a dark time in Australia’s history, but good people have legally fought long and hard to remove ALL people in Australia from such tyranny and injustice; first by making us all British Subjects and then, gratefully, on 26 January 1949, by making us ALL Australians. This date, the day we ALL became Australians, is, I believe, the most significant date in Australia’s history. The day we put the past behind. The day everything changed. I believe that is worth celebrating.

  21. Adam January 27, 2020 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Australia Day had been celebrated as early as 1808. I’m sorry, this is just a bit of convenient revisionism. For good or not, Australia Day celebrates the proclamation of the eastern part of Australia as a British colony, and has nothing to do with “Australia”. There is only one significant date for that purpose, which is 1 January, the day Australia became a nation. Should we become a republic, and hopefully soon, perhaps we might use 26 January. Until then, Australia will be the only UN country that celebrates its national day with an invasion, and not a lieration.

  22. John Brewer January 27, 2020 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    I agree with you Adam. We don’t seem celebrate 1 January at all these days. Though we used to. I think that was stopped in the 90s. However, I think we should commemorate the establishment of the British colony on 26 Jan as it was a significant historical event.

  23. Geoff January 27, 2020 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    I have to agree with Adam. January 1 is the day Australia became a nation, not a collection of colonies. Many changes for the rights of many in the population since then. Of course all indigenous people but also others including a large percentage of the rest including women, children, non-whites and the disabled. The only argument against changing to this date may be the New Years Eve hangovers that many would be nursing.

  24. Debra Fabris January 27, 2020 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    You are delusional Monica, your facts are subjective and at times incorrect. Your use of the term Aborigines is disrespectful and shows cultural insensitivity, Indigenous peoples could have been used in place of the more derogatory term used. The sheer implication of homogeneity demonstrates your denial of the cultural diversity within Australian society, it also exhibits the white ideology from which you have emerged. You are correct in stating that “Education is the key”, but unfortunately for this blog I believe you need to go back to the drawing board.

  25. Kristin January 27, 2020 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    Interesting perspective in this article. Unfortunately quite uninformed 😕
    Did you know that the day was already a day of mourning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples since the early 1880’s? A day where they could gather and remember the lives and culture that was lost. Where they could gather and celebrate their survival.
    Did you know that most states began celebrating Australia Day in 1935? 14 years before the Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1948 was passed.
    Did you know that Australia is the only country in the whole world who does not have a treaty with its First Nations?
    Did you know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples didn’t have the right to vote until 1962? Almost 20 years after apparently becoming Australians.
    Did you know that Aboriginal slavery in Australia didn’t end until the 1970’s? 30 years after apparently become Australians.
    It’s easy for outsiders to say “we are all Australians”. But those who don’t have Aboriginal heritage will never comprehend the pain and suffering that was caused by the invasion and the massacres which occurred.
    Aboriginals, on paper, may have been classed as Australians from 1949. But in practice, they were still classed as otherwise.
    This is why, every year since 1938, there have been protests by a large portion of our Indigenous population against Australia Day. And those protests will continue until the date is changed and a treaty is made.

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan January 28, 2020 at 7:58 am - Reply

      Kristin, I’m not an outsider. My great grandmother was an Aborigine, married to a Irishman at a time when both were oppressed and persecuted by the British. What was done can never be undone. It’s good to remember the past, and never forget, but only so that we can cherish the freedom we all now have. The freedom to protest was never given to those living under colonial rule, it is a freedom we have now, because good people changed the laws so we could have that freedom.

      • Peg January 28, 2020 at 5:54 pm - Reply

        Well said. 👏🙏

  26. Monica Bennett-Ryan January 28, 2020 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Caleb, from what I understand, Arthur Phillip, after the arrival of the First Fleet, on 26 January 1788, proclaimed the land he was on (Sydney) as a British Colony, he didn’t have the authority to claim the rest of Australia for Britain. That privilege was given to the one who discovered Australia, Captain Cook. It wasn’t until later that year, that Captain Cook, officially planted the British flag and took possession of the entire Eastern half of the continent as a British Colony on Possession Island on 22 August, 1788. This means that the 22nd of August was the day Britain claimed Australia as a possession. So, there are many dates relating to the coming of the British to Australia, but there is only ONE date that gave all people living on Australian soil, including Aboriginals the right to be called Australians. That date is worth both remembering and celebrating!

  27. Lindsay Turner January 28, 2020 at 9:54 am - Reply

    Wow.
    Lots of comments here. Lots of reposts I’ve seen here to. One lad had it right. That Australia day was celebrated as far back as 1808.
    Have you actually done the proper research there Monica.
    The foundation of Australia Day was invented by emancipated convicts some 30 years after the arrival of the 1st fleet to celebrate their freedom.
    Read my article I researched and repost every year.
    It’s a real eye opener. It’s truth from documents in our history but not talked about.
    The only thing worse than having a convict in your history is to have a politician.
    Please read for enlightenment.

    https://m.facebook.com/PDLA-Patriots-Defence-League-Australia-237357993132774/?refid=52&ref=bookmarks&__tn__=C-R

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan February 4, 2020 at 12:14 pm - Reply

      Thank you Lindsay, I will enjoy reading it. My point though is, there is only one day in Australia’s history on which all Australians were first allowed to legally call themselves Australian. That was the 26th of January, 1949. That, therefore is a significant and important date and the reason all citizenship ceremonies are held on the 26th of January. It is an event all Australians should remember and celebrate. A day for unity, not division.

  28. Denise Allen January 28, 2020 at 11:41 am - Reply

    You still doesnt get it. You even states in your article the very reason why the First Nations people find January 26 so offensive.
    “Governor Phillip officially claimed the land he was on as a British colony on the 26th of January, 1788.”

    THAT’S what this is all about. It always was, always will be First Nations People land. Why white people think they can justify the significance of January 26 is beyond me. The arrogance is gobsmacking. Also, First Nations people werent considered fully fledged citizens until 1967. They still came under the Flora and Fauna Act….and in the first Constitution they were denied voting rights in all States and Federally. So this womans claim we all became “Australians” on the same day is absolutely incorrect…a twist of facts. Btw the woman on the video is a member of the extreme RW IPA.

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan February 4, 2020 at 12:33 pm - Reply

      Denise, I do get it. Captain Cook discovered Australia, landed, claimed it as a possession and then arrived in Sydney. He was the one who took possession of Australia for England – and not one of those events happened on the 26th January. Not one! Governor Phillip claimed the ‘and he was on’ (Sydney) as the site of the first British colony. He did not claim the whole of Australia, just Sydney. What happened in Sydney on 26 January does not represent Captain Cooks discovery of Australia or his claiming of possession. All people in Australia became Australians on the 26th of January and it was only because Aboriginals regarded as Australians under the Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1948 that a referendum on their behalf could be carried out to have the Constitution changed to include Aboriginals in the census. (The Constitution can’t be changed without a referendum) these freedoms only came about BECAUSE of the law that was enacted on 26th of January 1949.

  29. Denise Allen January 28, 2020 at 11:43 am - Reply

    “Even state..” no facility to edit.

  30. Denise Allen January 28, 2020 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    “You still don’t get it” ….why no edit facility?

  31. Nerida January 28, 2020 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    I appreciate your good intentions in sharing this, but it seems inaccurate. I’d be interested to know what sources you’ve found that say the Nationality and Citizenship Act is the reason for Australia Day celebrations, which is what you seem to be saying. While it makes sense as an explanation of why citizenship ceremonies are held on Australia Day, apparently celebrations on January 26 date back to 1808 and the term Australia Day was first used in 1935. Certainly there were big celebrations in 1938 on the 150th anniversary of British arrival (including a re-enactment of Captain Phillip’s landing, that Aboriginal men were forced to participate in). That was also the occasion of the first national Day of Mourning, a gathering of Indigenous people protesting callous treatment and appealing for a policy to give them citizenship and equality. They did not receive the rights of citizenship until 1967 and they still don’t have equality.

    No amount of re-education can separate the date from the events of 1788 and their consequences. Instead of looking for ways to make January 26 more palatable, why not listen to those of our Indigenous brothers and sisters who cannot celebrate on what is an understandably difficult day and are appealing to join together on a more suitable date? But then, perhaps that date is hard to find because we haven’t yet taken the significant steps needed to become a truly inclusive nation.

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan February 4, 2020 at 12:40 pm - Reply

      Nerida, I believe education is key, because I believe it is a lack of education which had led to Australia day being a day of protest rather than a day of celebration. Captain Cook did not discover Australia on the 26th of January. He did not land on the 26th of January. He did not claim the Eastern half of Australia as a British possession on 26th of January (that is the day that Aboriginals should mourn). He did not land in Sydney on 26th of January. None of these events had anything to do with the 26th of January, yet these are the very events our Indigenous are protesting. As I said, education is key.

  32. Ian McCourt January 28, 2020 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    Hi Monica,
    Thanks for this information. I wasn’t aware that the 26th Jan 1949 was the day Australians ceased being British subjects and became Australians. The only problem I have with it is that you don’t explain why the government in 1948 chose the 26th Jan 1949 as the date for bringing the Nationality and Citizenship Act into effect. Rather that a random date, I strongly suspect that it was chosen specifically because the 26th Jan 1788 was the day Arthur Phillip raised the British flag at Sydney Cove in Port Jackson. If this is so, it is impossible to separate the settlement of the continent by the British from the day we all became Australians rather than British subjects because one date is the direct consequence of the other. One could just as easily argue that 1st January should be Australia Day because it was 1st January 1901 that we became a federated nation with an independent federal government. Regardless of the significance of 26th Jan 1949, I think there is a strong case to be made for changing Australia Day to a date less offensive to the first nation people.

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan February 4, 2020 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      Ian, I agree with you. My problem though, is that I can’t see why first nation people would pick the 26th of January as their date of protest, for Captain Cook officially took possession of Australia at Possession Island on 22 August, 1770. That’s the day that should surely lend itself to protest rather than the date of settlement of the first town. When it comes to the discovery, possession, landing and settlement of Australia there are many dates to choose from. But there is only one date on which we all gained the right, under law, to be called Australians. That date was the 26 January 1949.

  33. Kristin January 28, 2020 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Hi Monica,

    I appreciate your response. I hear you in relation to other nationalities also experiencing oppression in Australia at the same time as our First Nations and I do not deny this fact. It’s a very sad history all around. For this purpose though, you were specifically addressing the “true” history of the 26th January so I will stick to that subject.

    I would be interested to know where you got your information from on the history of Australia day / 26th January – I haven’t been able to replicate your view anywhere (not even on this site where there have been recent posts showing a different historical view).

    The date you speak of may have made all people Australians on paper, but the actual practical way of life did not change for a very long time following this date. You can put it down to “working out the kinks” if you like but really, it shouldn’t take 20 years for Aboriginal people to be able to vote (regardless of whether they can read/write), 20 years for children to discontinue being removed from their homes (the stolen generation), 30 years for people to stop being removed from their homes and forced into slavery, 40 years for the last Aboriginal mission to close, the list goes on and on.

    It makes me sad that you, a fellow Indigenous person, cannot see how offensive it is to our First Nations to celebrate Australia Day on 26th January. All our Indigenous peoples want is a treaty and for the date to be changed – I can’t understand why this is such a big ask for so many people (the vast majority, non-Indigenous people).

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan February 4, 2020 at 1:23 pm - Reply

      Kristin, I agree the whole history is sad. But there is a reality also and that is that it takes time to bring change. There are no magic wands when it comes to the law. Every law and decision made in Australia had to be ratified by England until the Australia Act of 1986, it was only then that Australia became free to change our laws without receiving approval/permission from the English Parliament. Since 1986, changes have happened quickly. British rule was harsh and damaging, and it has taken Australians nearly 200 years to free ourselves from British rule and create laws which protect and nurture all Australians. I’m also Irish and I feel sad for the Irish people who were forced from their lands and families by the British, given trumped up charges and sent as convicts to the other side of the world, so that England could own/rule Ireland. 70% of the people who came to Australia as convicts were Irish and it’s this heritage that has continually fought for justice against the British in Australia. I’m proud of my heritage and the freedoms that have been achieved in a relatively short time (historically speaking). We can all do more. And I believe the thing which unities us the most is that we all know we can do better.

  34. May Clark January 29, 2020 at 12:47 am - Reply

    To understand exactly what happened when the First Fleet landed in Australia perhaps the arguement can be best settled by reading the diary of Captain Watkin Tench; who travelled with the fleet and reported his findings in this extensive diary.

  35. angel wild January 29, 2020 at 1:37 am - Reply

    yaama [hello] & thanks monica.
    😉
    for the record..

    1. our first nations people were not actually regarded as “citizens” – not even human – only flora & fauna – until the constitution was changed in 1967. when we were no longer recognized as flora & fauna.. & instead, given the title of human + the power to vote.. for the very people-leaders-government, who gradually willfully stole &/or dismantled.. the very essence of the now oldest recognized living culture, in the world.
    we – first australians – gather & commemorate this landmark time & space, in june every year, for NAIDOC = National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Day of Observation Committee.

    2. australia wasn’t called that until after federation 1st of january, 1901. when the 7x states were established & brought under control by the british
    prior to federation this land was still being referred to as terra australis.. & the country was claimed by 2x invading countries, fought over & consequently, sub-divided into 2x separate nations..
    east coast claimed + named by the british as “New South Wales”.
    west coast claimed + named by the dutch as “New Holland”.

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan February 4, 2020 at 4:32 pm - Reply

      Hello Yaama. Thanks for your input. I love that so many are concerned about ‘getting things right’. That’s good for all of us. The land itself was called Australia in 1901 (not that long ago) but the people where still regarded as British. All travel papers/passports were granted under British Nationality until 1949. That’s when all the people living in Australia were allowed to call themselves Australian. I think that’s pretty important.

  36. Peter Bowen January 29, 2020 at 10:41 am - Reply

    Phillip claimed Australia on 7 February 1788, otherwise good article.

  37. Chris January 29, 2020 at 10:43 pm - Reply

    Stop lying you stole this country from the First Nation people.

  38. […] Australia Day, 26 January, much ado is being made about it being a day of shame by so-called Indigenous-friendly […]

  39. JBar January 31, 2020 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    This is rather inaccurate. here is a link to a newspaper article about aboriginal activists protesting the invasion celebration on the 26th of January 1938. Invasion day is not a new concept at all. https://www.facebook.com/DodgyPerth/photos/a.808915892498473/2787133161343393/?type=3&theater&hc_location=ufi

    • Monica Bennett-Ryan February 4, 2020 at 2:14 pm - Reply

      JBar, thank you for your comment. However, there was no invasion. Invasions are carried out by soldiers who are trained to go into another country and use force to overcome any opposition. That did not happen in Australia. Arthur Philip brought prisoners who were weak from hunger and bound in chains to their new prison camp. They had no freedom to go anywhere or do anything. They were prisoners guarded by jailers. That could never, in anyone’s terms, be called an invasion. A trespass, maybe, but not an invasion. Nevertheless, the requests made by the Aboriginal community in the article you sited, have all since been met, which shows the leaders were listening, even back in 1935. Most notably, the ‘full citizen status’, they requested was achieved through the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948. Since then many laws have been made and passed to ensure Aboriginals have the ‘education and care’ they need. None of the laws that have since come into place could have happened without that first law, enacted on 26 January 1949, which proclaimed all Aboriginals as Australians.

  40. Tom Cleland February 2, 2020 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    I have always used Aborigine(s) when referring to the people. Aboriginal is the correct usage for classification by way of the adverb.. However, from time to time I have said “they are Aboriginal” , but this is qualifying as well. Aborigine is correct. Pity the people who start these trends don’t get some advice or at least take advice from those who know. I find it very odd indeed to say is is ‘outdated’. Its not your fault Shae, even the ABC which used to be very good, but so often these days they are woefully wrong. Hey, ‘live and learn’ as they say.

  41. Monica Bennett-Ryan February 4, 2020 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    JBar, thank you for your comment. However, there was no invasion. Invasions are carried out by soldiers who are trained to go into another country and use force to overcome any opposition. That did not happen in Australia. Arthur Philip brought prisoners who were weak from hunger and bound in chains to their new prison camp. They had no freedom to go anywhere or do anything. They were prisoners guarded by jailers. That could never, in anyone’s terms, be called an invasion. A trespass, maybe, but not an invasion. Nevertheless, the requests made by the Aboriginal community in the article you sited, have all since been met, which shows the leaders were listening, even back in 1935. Most notably, the ‘full citizen status’, they requested was achieved through the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948. Since then many laws have been made and passed to ensure Aboriginals have the ‘education and care’ they need. None of the laws that have since come into place could have happened without that first law, enacted on 26 January 1949, which proclaimed all Aboriginals as Australians.

  42. Mike February 18, 2020 at 8:54 am - Reply

    “I am, you are, we are Australian”
    This article should be re-posted every January until all educators read it.

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