From an educational point of view Australia Day is an opportunity for teachers to have students explore the history and the different view-points that Australians have of this national day by using the content descriptions provided in the Australian Curriculum. Teaching about Australia Day can be included in the learning areas of History, Geography and Civics and Citizenship and in the General Capabilities of Intercultural Understanding and Interpersonal and Social Capability and the Cross Curriculum Priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures.
Here are some examples of content descriptions of the Australian Curriculum that can be related to different aspects of Australia Day.
One way for students to inquire about and celebrate Australia Day is to for students to peruse the Australia Day Honours List (published in most major newspapers) and note the way people in their (and other) communities have been honoured for a variety of civic activities.
Or have a class discussion that covers the different perspectives in the following websites: https://www.australiaday.org.au/about-australia-day/ and http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/25/asia/australia-day-invasion-day/index.html.
A sequence of learning
to provide guidance in the arts of Civil Conversation and Accountable Talk to ensure that students understand how to exchange views without rancour. Democracy cannot survive without these skills.
To Better Understand Australia Day
Dealing with the Issues of Australia Day, Civics and Citizenship Content and Inquiry
AUSTRALIA DAY is really about our national identity (from Year 4 onwards, but especially in Year 6 and Year 8 C&C).
It is a day when students might consider the valuable contributions Australia has made to the world in areas such as ideas (the secret ballot, 8-hour working day) and scientific inventions (cochlear ear, wifi).
We can celebrate that Aboriginal people were the first anywhere to use ground edges on stone cutting tools and the first to use stone tools to grind seeds. They invented the boomerang and the woomera and David Unaipon was regarded a Australia's 'Leonardo' in the early 1900s.
Students could survey the yearly Honours lists to see what ordinary citizens in civil society do to make this a better nation.
However, experience indicates that because of the current date, schools are not in a good position to prepare learning activities around the important national day. Depending on the yearly calendar for students, the date can fall in school holidays (always in Western Australia), on a student-free day or in the busy first week of school, which denies the educative function of the post-war "fresh approach" to the day.
The search for an inclusive national day might consider this problem.
But because Australia Day falls so close to the beginning of the school year there is an opportunity to emphasise to students the citizenship aspect of this Day close to the Day itself.
At each Year level, the Citizenship, diversity and identity strand of the Civics and Citizenship curriculum covers some aspect of citizenship, from understanding what groups contribute to civil society to the possibilities for personal participation. The national Australia Day Awards reward those citizens who have been recognised as epitomising the cultural and civic values of our society. Such awards showcase the diversity of activities that contribute to social cohesion and our national identity.
A suggestion for an easily prepared first lesson could be to use the website that currently lists the nominees for awards: https://www.australianoftheyear.org.au/honour-roll/?view=landing&year=2019 (even though the winners will have been announced before you start school). Note that teachers need to build a recognition that, apart from our family and the government, there are many others who give up their time for our welfare and work for the common good (i.e. civil society). Ask students to:
From the Editorial: Re-writing history? SEAQ Newsletter September 2017
Dealing with the topic of Australia Day, many media comments have referred to any suggestion about changing the date as an attempt to re-write history. (Historians always rewrite history.) Arguments for changing the date centre around the notion that it cannot be a celebration of our Australian lifestyle and achievements if it is also a day regarded by our First Peoples as representing loss of land and agency in their lives. Most other nations that began as colonies celebrate their independence from the parent country as their national day. Settlement as a penal colony was once a source of shame for many.
Arguments against changing the date include the following: that the European settlement that began our way of life began on the 26th January 1788; that if the British had not settled then another European nation would have; that the Aborigines were living a primitive lifestyle and should have been grateful for the comforts of western civilisation; that 'this is now and why can't they get over it and move on', and also that it is a public holiday at the most convenient time of the year.
Added to these arguments is the attempt by two Victorian Councils to move their Australia Day citizenship ceremonies to another day to accommodate indigenous sensitivities (regarded by the federal government as politicising and delegitimising such ceremonies and therefore not to be allowed), and the defacing of a statue of James Cook , which has led to another discussion about removing statues of those whose actions do not conform to modern attitudes and mores.
The phrase, attributed to Voltaire, that states: "I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to death your right to say it" is often invoked in situations like this. However, where history is concerned, not all knowledge or opinions are equal and all history is contestable. However, to be valid, opinions must be based on verifiable evidence. (Observance of this rule may lead to the end of fake news.?)
So, to some questions, points of interest and possible answers:
If the point of developing a fresh approach to Australia Day post-war was an educative one for non-British migrants, perhaps there is room for another fresh approach today to foster reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
We could make our national day truly inclusive by (a) choosing a day that does not remind indigenous people of how the loss of their land has led specifically to intergenerational trauma for many (most?) of them; and (b) providing an opportunity to educate all Australians about the rich complexity of traditional cultures so that all of us develop greater respect for our First Peoples. In light of the above editorial, it could be a date post-1901 that is a positive one for Aborigines. For example, the day of the 1967 Referendum, after which those who identified as Aboriginal could be counted in the census (27/5/1967); the day that Gough Whitlam handed land back to the Gurindji (16/8/75); the day of the Mabo decision on land rights (3/6/1992); the day of Paul Keating's Redfern Speech, (10/12/92) - the first public admission of what was taken from them; Kevin Rudd's Apology to the Stolen Generations (13/2/2008) .....
Having a national day is important, but it must be one that is significant, that ALL Australians want to celebrate.
Information largely from : https://www.statusquo.org/aru_html/html/ausday.html#Proclamtion%3B%20https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FAustralia_Day%3B%20https%3A%2F%2Fwww.australiaday.org.au%2Faustralia-day%2Fhistory%2F