Australia Day

A call for national conversation

The history of Australia Day is intrinsically linked with the history of Australian Unity. The Australian Natives’ Association (ANA), one of Australian Unity’s predecessor organisations, lobbied with other parties for the creation of a national day. On 26 January 1888, Australia Day was first celebrated as Foundation Day. In the context of Australian Unity’s particular history and involvement with Australia Day, we are considering our responsibility to lobby once again on this front.

In 2016 we initiated a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to help build stronger relationships and opportunities for, and with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

As part of this plan we are now calling for a national conversation on whether the current date of 26 January should be changed to one more inclusive and respectful to all Australians.

Read our Reconciliation Action Plan to learn more.

Australia Day Breakfast

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

Invitees include dignitaries, Members of Parliament and prominent business people from across Victoria. In recent years, we have decided to move the breakfast to a date adjacent to 26 January to respect the wishes of our Indigenous peoples’ request to change the date.

Listed speakers and links

Mr Ziggy Switkowski AO, delivering his vision for the future of Australian ingenuity and technological advancement.

Lee Lin Chin, described as one of the greatest in Australian broadcasting history speaking on what it means to be Australian.

Maryanne Diamond AO, internationally recognized for her work in advocating for people with disabilities speaking on the dignity of risk.

The Hon Ian Macfarlane, former Federal Resources and Energy Minister. “Why I changed my mind about the date of when we should celebrate Australia Day"

Mr Ian Harper, Economist. “An economic view of Australian history”

Ms Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia speaking on “The state of business”.

Mr Nyunggai Warren Mundine, Executive Chairman of the Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce. What does reconciliation mean?

Dr Ian Watt AO, former Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet speaking on the evolution of Australia Day

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

Hon Chief Justic Marilyn Warren AC Supreme Court of Victoria. Celebrating justice

Professor Margaret Gardner AO, Vice-Chancellor and President, RMIT University. What it means to become a citizen

Hon. Lindsay Tanner, Federal Minister for Finance and Deregulation. The outlook for Australia in the face of the global financial crisis.

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

Professor Glyn Davis, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Melbourne. Unlikely heroes to celebrate on Australia Day

John Bell, founder and artistic director of The Bell Shakespeare Company. Defining the Australian identity and what it means to be Australian.

Li Cunxin, Artistic director of Queensland Ballet and known as ‘Maos 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.

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.

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