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Australia Day

Australia Day 

Australia Day was first celebrated as Foundation Day on 26 January 1888 after one of Australian Unity’s founding organisations, the Australian Natives’ Association (ANA), lobbied to create a national day of celebration.

In the context of our particular history and involvement with Australia Day, we have been considering the organisation’s responsibility to lobby once again on this front.

In 2016, Australian Unity initiated a Reconciliation Action Plan to help build respect, relationships and opportunities for, with and between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

As part of that plan, we are now calling for a national conversation on whether the current date of Australia Day should be charged to one more inclusive of all Australians, one that all Australians can celebrate without reservation.

To read Australian Unity’s Reconciliation Action Plan click here.

Australia Day breakfast

The Great Australia Day Breakfast is a company tradition dating back more than 50 years. Each year a public figure presents guests at the breakfast with the Australia Day address.

See below for a list of who has given the Australia Day address in previous years and links to read their address. 

2019 Lee Lin Chin, described as one of the greatest in the history of Australian broadcasting.
What it means to be Australian. 

2018 Maryanne Diamond AO, internationally recognised for her work advocating for people with disabilities. The dignity of risk. (PDF 71KB)


2017 The Hon Mr Ian Macfarlane, former Federal Resources and Energy Minister. Why I changed my mind about the date of when we should celebrate Australia Day. (PDF 197KB) 


2016 Mr Ian Harper, Economist. An economic view of Australian history. (PDF 317KB)

2015 Ms Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia. The state of business. (PDF 176KB)

2014 Mr Nyunggai Warren Mundine, Executive Chairman of the Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce. What does reconciliation mean? (PDF 421KB)

2013 Dr Ian Watt AO, Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The evolution of Australia Day (PDF 7,240KB)

2012 Professor the Hon. Gareth Evans AO QC, Chancellor, Australian National University Professional Fellow, University of Melbourne. Australia's distinctive presence in the world: and why winning a security council seat matters. (PDF 170KB)

2011 Hon. Chief Justice Marilyn Warren AC Supreme Court of Victoria. Celebrating justice. (843KB)

2010 Professor Margaret Gardner AO, Vice-Chancellor and President, RMIT University. What it means to become a citizen. (PDF 32KB)

2009 Hon. Lindsay Tanner, Federal Minister for Finance and Deregulation. The outlook for Australia in the face of the global financial crisis. (PDF 78KB)

2008 Professor Geoffrey Blainey, AC, The history of Australia Day and what it means to Australians. Unfortunately a copy of the speech is unavailable.

2007 Professor Glyn Davis, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Melbourne. Unlikely heroes to celebrate on Australia Day. (PDF 7,308KB)

2006 John Bell, founder and artistic director of The Bell Shakespeare Company. Defining the Australian identity and what it is to be Australian. (PDF 7,308KB)

2005 Li Cunxin, Artistic director of Queensland Ballet and known as Mao's Last Dancer since the release of his autobiography and movie of the same name. What Australia Day means to me, celebrate Australian achievements, Australian spirit and how we can help the less fortunate around the world. (PDF 23KB)

2004 Hon John Harber Phillips AC QC, Chief Justice of Victoria. The 150th anniversary of the Eureka stockade and the place it holds in Australia's history. (PDF 52KB)

2001 Sir Gustav Nossal, research biologist and Australian of the Year 2000. The Centenary of Federation year and a vision of the 21st Century as a Knowledge Century. (PDF 21KB)

2017 Australia Day breakfast

The Hon Ian Macfarlane speaking at Australian Unity's Great Australia Day Breakfast at Parliament House, Melbourne, January 26, 2017.