Google's Australia Day doodle recognizes agony beneath celebrations

Story highlights

  • Google unveils special edition Doodle on its Australian homepage for Australia Day
  • The design, featuring indigenous Australians, comes from a high school student
  • Doodle is praised by many for addressing indigenous rights issues in the country
  • Australia day is on the date when the first British settlers landed -- making it a contentious topic

(CNN)A special Google Doodle marking Australia Day has won widespread praise for highlighting the indigenous people's centuries-old suffering.

Visitors going to the search giant's Australian homepage are greeted by forceful imagery of three indigenous Australians -- a woman and two children -- and a tearful eye.
    The doodle drew mostly praise from Internet users in Australia, with some tweeting their support of the recognition of hardships suffered by the Australian indigenous population since the first British settlers landed in 1788.
    One called it an "excellent choice" to mark Australia Day.
    Another praised the gesture for highlighting "centuries of injustice," while another announced they were "so impressed" with the company's choice of doodle.
    Other users compared Google's doodle efforts favorably over Twitter's attempt to mark the occasion with a sunglasses-wearing koala emoji.

    Symbol of recognition

    The special doodle, titled "Stolen Dreamtime," was designed by Ineka Voigt, a student at Canberra High School.
    "I wanted to recognize the tragedies of the past" and not only celebrate Australia's achievements, Voigt told CNN by phone, when asked about her inspiration for the design.
    "I want (the Doodle) to be a symbol of reconciliation."
    She also said that she's been receiving messages of support and congratulations from people around the world, and that the reaction to her design from Australia and beyond was amazing.
    Her design was selected from more than 26,000 entries submitted to Google Australia's "Doodle 4 Google" competition, which had the theme of "If I could go back in time I would..."
    Voight's answer to the theme is that she would "reunite mother and child."

    Contentious debut date

    The result was first announced last October, but the doodle only debuted today to mark the country's national day.
    "A weeping mother sits in an ochre desert, dreaming of her children and a life that never was... all that remains is red sand, tears and the whispers of her stolen dreamtime," she continues.
    The Australian government had forcibly removed mixed-race Aboriginal children from their families to dormitories or industrial schools until the 1970s.
    As a result, these children of the "Stolen Generation" lost contact with their families and heritage and led harsh lives, often in neglect and abuse.
    In 2008, Kevin Rudd, then the Australian prime minister, officially apologized for the government's "mistreatment" that brought indigenous Australians "profound grief, suffering and loss."

    Growing support for Aboriginals

    "It's a powerful and beautiful image that is not only a brilliant artwork, but helps bring attention to the critical issue of reconciliation in Australia," Leticia Lentini, Google Australia's Brand and Events Marketing Manager, wrote about the winning design.
    Stan Grant: Indigenous treatment a 'stain on Australia's soul'
    Stan Grant: Indigenous treatment a 'stain on Australia's soul'


      Stan Grant: Indigenous treatment a 'stain on Australia's soul'


    Stan Grant: Indigenous treatment a 'stain on Australia's soul' 04:24
    "We're proud to have it on our homepage," she added.
    Google's move comes just days after a powerful speech on the treatment of Australia's indigenous population by prominent journalist and former CNN correspondent Stan Grant went viral.
    The date of the first British landing on Australia, January 26, has since been celebrated as Australia Day, and is now a federal holiday in the country.

    Not shying away from controversy

    Google has not shied away from taking overt political stances.
    In 2010, the company announced it would no longer censor search results for terms deemed politically sensitive in China.
    And in 2014, it unveiled a rainbow-themed Doodle to mark the opening of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The Russian government has been criticized for its anti-LGBT stance.
    The tech giant has long prided itself on its liberal politics -- since its inception until its reshuffle as Alphabet Inc last year, "don't be evil" was its well-known motto.