The ABC has begun referring to January 26 as ‘Invasion Day’ as well as ‘‘ in an attempt to be more inclusive.
There have long been debates about the celebration of the day, with activists saying it is linked to the killing of Indigenous Australians and the ‘colonisation of an ancient culture’.
In an article published on Sunday, two days before the public holiday, the national broadcaster used both terms interchangeably to discuss events and celebrations across Australia.
But the article drew the ire of critics who accused the broadcaster of promoting divisiveness within the community.
The article was titled ‘Australia Day/Invasion Day 2021 events for Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin’ and described the public holiday as ‘one of the most polarising dates on the Australian calendar’.
The ABC has begun referring to January 26 as ‘Invasion Day’ instead of ‘Australia Day’ in an attempt to be more inclusive (pictured, celebrations in 2019 in Melbourne)
There have long been debates about the celebration of a day linked to the genocide of Indigenous Australians and the ‘colonisation of an ancient culture’ (protesters at an Invasion Day rally in 2020_
Australia Day is a day of celebration for many, as the nation enjoys a public holiday to come together and enjoy everything a lifestyle Down Under brings.
But for First Nations people, it marks ‘a day of sorrow for the colonisation of an ancient culture,’ according to the ABC article.
‘For some First Nations people, it is a day to mourn the past and galvanise the community to address ongoing systemic racial injustice. For others, it’s a chance to spend time with family and friends at the beach or around barbecues.’
The ABC defended the decision to use the terms interchangeably as it would be ‘inappropriate’ to demand its’ staff to refer to one or the other.
But hordes of viewers were left seeing red after the article was published, with some vowing never to tune into ABC again.
‘Geez @abcnews invasion day, really? Lost me as a reader,’ one reader said online.
‘Could someone at the ABC please advise when ‘Invasion Day’ was made some sort of officially declared day, and who in authority made that call?,’ another added.
One Nation’s Mark Latham went so far as to accuse the national broadcaster of ‘rewriting history’ to suit a political agenda.
‘There is a determination in there (at the ABC) to rewrite our national history to fit in with their own left-wing biases and agendas,’ he said.
Australia Day is a day of celebration for many (pictured, revellers in 2020 at a Brisbane pub)
But for First Nations people, it marks ‘a day of sorrow for the colonisation of an ancient culture,’ according to the ABC article (pictured, protesters on Australia Day in 2020 in Melbourne)
The ABC promoted the article on Twitter later on Sunday, sticking by the ‘Australia Day/Invasion Day’ decision
‘It’s disappointing but I’m not surprised. If you can find one conservative voice or centrist voice discussing issues like this on the national broadcaster it’s a fluke.
‘Instead, the ABC is intent on broadcasting political propaganda and left-wing ideologies and making the facts fit their own narrative.’
Meanwhile Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt’s office explained he disagreed with the use of ‘Invasion Day’ and instead wanted to unite Australians.
‘Minister Wyatt believes that 26 January should be referred to as Australia Day,’ a spokesman said.
‘This Australia Day we should walk together, side-by-side, as one to reflect, respect and celebrate all that makes us Australian – Indigenous and non-Indigenous.’
Indigenous leader and formal Liberal candidate Warren Mundine agreed the language was divisive.
‘(Australia Day) should be a day that unites us,’ he said.
Mr Mundine said there is no disputing the ‘history of January 26’, but hoped that the nation could come together to ‘stop focusing on things that divide us (and) focus on the real issues and making them better’.
The ABC defended the decision to use the terms interchangeably as it would be ‘inappropriate’ to demand its staff to refer to one or the other
In an article published on Sunday, two days before the public holiday, the national broadcaster used both terms interchangeably to discuss events and celebrations across Australia (pictured, an Invasion Day rally in Brisbane in 2020)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was criticised for saying January 26 was a tough day for convicts on the First Fleet
But others praised the ABC for their use of the term, with the campaign growing to get the date of Australia Day changed.
Aboriginal activist Stephen Hagan, who was partially responsible for changing the name of Coon cheese after it was deemed racist, said ‘Invasion Day’ is the ‘correct term… even if it is not the most popular term with everyone’.
A spokesman for ABC explained that Australia Day would remain the ‘default term’, but that reporters have been encouraged to use other variations, including ‘Invasion Day’ and ‘Survival Day’.
‘We also recognise and respect that community members use other terms for the event, including ’26 January’, ‘Invasion Day’ and ‘Survival Day’, so our reporting and coverage reflect that,’ the spokesman said.
The broadcaster pointed out that ‘Survival Day’ and ‘Invasion Day’ are synonymous with ‘Australia Day’ for Indigenous people and their supporters.
‘Given the variety of terms in use, and the different perspectives on the day that the ABC is going to cover over the course of the long weekend, it would be inappropriate to mandate staff use any one term over others in all contexts,’ he added.
Australia Day is celebrated on January 26 with a national public holiday (pictured in 2019 at the Australian Open) but many activists want to see the date changed
There have long been debates about the celebration of a day since it celebrates the landing of the First Fleet in Australia (pictured, a rally in Melbourne in 2020)
It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison was criticised for saying January 26 was also tough day for convicts on the First Fleet.
Aboriginal rights activists argue the nation should not celebrate Australia Day because it marks the start of colonisation and the oppression of Indigenous Australians.
But the prime minister said the convicts who arrived from Britain and raised the Union Jack in 1788 also had a difficult time.
‘On Australia Day, it’s all about acknowledging how far we’ve come,’ Mr Morrison told reporters in Queensland on Thursday.
‘You know, when those 12 ships turned up in Sydney, it wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those vessels either.’
Convicts shipped to Australia from Ireland and the UK were often treated as slave labor and were subject to ‘assigned service’ where they were leased out to rich landowners to use as a cheap workforce.
Aboriginal rights activists argue the nation should not celebrate Australia Day because it marks the start of colonisation and the oppression of Indigenous Australians
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