"Australia Day": Down Under celebrates controversial national holiday

In Australia, the most controversial day of the year is coming up again: On Thursday, the fifth continent celebrates the national holiday "Australia Day" - commemorating the arrival of the First Fleet (the first fleet) in Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788.

"Australia Day": Down Under celebrates controversial national holiday

In Australia, the most controversial day of the year is coming up again: On Thursday, the fifth continent celebrates the national holiday "Australia Day" - commemorating the arrival of the First Fleet (the first fleet) in Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788.

Indigenous people and activists refer to the holiday as "Invasion Day". For the Aborigines, it is a reminder of the atrocities and dispossession associated with colonization. There were protests and some constructive initiatives beforehand.

"Who is celebrating invasion, murder and theft on January 26?" wrote Lidia Thorpe, Victoria's Green Party senator, in a widely read tweet. In Melbourne, the region's capital, the traditional street parade has been canceled for the first time out of respect for indigenous people.

"For many (native people), this date is nothing more than a day of mourning," says the website of the Change it Ourselves initiative, which is campaigning for the national holiday to be moved to another date. "The loss of their culture and the suffering of their ancestors are closely linked to January 26, the day the British ships arrived," it said.

Companies make their mark

Many institutions and companies are also setting an example this year by allowing employees to work on "Australia Day" and instead take another day off. The university in the city of Wollongong (New South Wales) was the first educational institution to take the step. The supermarket chain Woolworths, which is one of the largest employers in the country with 215,000 employees, also gives employees a choice.

Australia's largest mobile operator Telstra is also joining. Chief Executive Vicky Brady, who is scheduled to work on Thursday, said: "For many First Nations people, Australia Day is a painful reminder of discrimination and exclusion." Numerous demos are planned for the holiday itself.

Despite all the criticism, numerous public events also take place. A large concert followed by fireworks is planned near the Sydney Opera House - very close to where the first ship of the British colonialists once docked.

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