Nic Nat at the 2019 Brownlow Medal ceremony.
Nic Nat at the 2019 Brownlow Medal ceremony.

AFL star Nic Naitanui calls for Australia Day date change

WEST Coast Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui is calling on Western Australia to lead the charge in changing the date of Australia Day.

A shift in the use of January 26 has long been debated with many indigenous Australians labelling the day "Invasion Day" and protests happening around the country.

But after being born in Sydney to Fijian parents before he moved to Perth at a young age, Naitanui has had enough of the division.

There have been protests organised around the country for January 26.

Polling conducted by Dynata and commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs this week claimed that more than 70 per cent of 1000 Australians surveyed did not want Australia Day moved to another day.

But Naitanui has come out advocating for change, having put up a poll of his own.

Of the 831 people on Twitter who voted, the poll ended up 49.2 per cent yes and 50.8 per cent no in response to the question, "Should the Australia Day date be changed?"

With the reaction on his page split down the middle, Naitanui believes it's time for the debate to end with a date that can unify the country.

"If a simple change of date helps appease tension, unify Australians and collectively allow us to celebrate this amazing country I'm all for it," the message read.

"Although 1788 marks a dark period for indigenous Australians, acknowledgement and not shying away (sic) from historical events for educational/progression purposes is important. I'd love the WA population to lead the way in this space and find an appropriate date. We celebrate other holidays on the calendar differently to the east coast so why not this one?

"To be honest, it's tiring seeing the protesting, these debates and the hate in people's hearts this period every year. Time to stand up and be heard #daretobedifferentWA".

AFL star Nic Naitanui has called for WA to lead Australia in picking a new day.
AFL star Nic Naitanui has called for WA to lead Australia in picking a new day.

It comes after The West Australian reported a poll that found half of young people in the state favoured keeping the day on January 26.

Digging in further, for those aged 18-39, 55 per cent said it should stay on January 26, 26 per cent believed it should change and 19 per cent were still undecided.

 

Overall, 65 per cent want it to stay the same, 21 per cent disagree and 14 per cent are undecided.

On its front page on Thursday, The West Australian declared it was time for change.  

"It's clear January 26 is a difficult date for indigenous Australians," The West editorial began.

"It's also clear the country is unlikely to move beyond an annual debate. We believe the time has come to explore a new date so we can move on and come together to celebrate our country."

Naitanui wasn't alone in his call either.

 

 

The ethics of Australia's national day being on January 26 - the said day the First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788 - is contested every year.

Sydney University newspaper Honi Soit published an editorial on Monday outlining its first position against Australia Day.

"'Australia Day', year upon year, furnishes us with a state-sanctioned narrative at odds with thousands of years of Aboriginal land management and spiritual connection to land," the newspaper's editors wrote.

"We do not call for a change of date, but rather an abolition of any day of national celebration until over 230 years of ongoing injustice are addressed and remedied."

January 26 commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove but the first ships actually arrived at Botany Bay more than a week before on January 18, 1788.

Specifically, January 26 is the day First Fleet commander Captain Arthur Phillip rowed ashore at Sydney Cove, raised the Union Jack and proclaimed British sovereignty over part of the continent in 1788.

The first "Australia Day" was actually held on July 30, 1915 to raise funds for the World War I effort and it didn't become the common date and name for the occasion until 1935.

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