With Australia Day coming up it is a great opportunity to be able to discuss and educate your students on our history and what this day means for different Australians.

Here is a brief summary you can use to explain to your class along with some suggested activities.

Australia Day 26th January

Australia Day celebrates the day when British settlers of the First Fleet, landed on the shores of Sydney. On the 26 January, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip arrived at Sydney Cove and took formal possession of the British colony named ‘New South Wales’. This day was originally referred to as ‘Foundation Day’ and was celebrated by anniversary dinners.

All States and Territories didn’t recognise Australia Day until 1935 and it wasn’t till as recently as 1994 that the country celebrated it as a formal public holiday. Many Australians celebrate this day with Australian themed clothing, food, paraphernalia and activities such as barbeques, parties, cricket matches or attending organised events.

Citizenship ceremonies often occur on this day as a symbol of unity, bringing a sense of belonging and shared values to those people chosing to become Australian citizens.

Invasion or Survival Day

Australia Day celebrates the freedom, values and pastimes of our country for many, however, it has been a controversial day that is marked by both patriotism and mourning. The original, indigenous owners of the land commemorate this day as a day they lost their rights to their land and their culture. They have renamed it Invasion or Survival Day and often attend marches in protest of the celebration of the day.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, this day recognizes the pain and suffering inflicted on their people by the government, which saw many of them removed from their families, their land and their culture.

There has been a proposed move to change the current celebration day of the 26th January to a date that all Australians can agree to participate in equally, celebrating with pride all that our country stands for.


  • – Create a find a word using Australian themed words.
  • – Design a flag that incorporated the traditional flag and the indigenous flag.
  • – Write a letter to the Prime Minister telling him how you think Australia should be celebrated. Should we change the date? Should everyone get free vegemite and play cricket? What would your ideal Australia Day be like?


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