Why some Australians want to move their controversial national day

Australian Actress Shareena Clanton raises her hand during a protest organized by Aboriginal rights activists on Australia Day in Melbourne, Australia on January 26, 2017.

Story highlights

  • A movement is growing in Australia to change the country's national day from January 26
  • For some Indigenous people, Australia Day is known as Invasion Day

(CNN)Australia's national day, held on January 26 every year, isn't all beer and barbeques.

While many see it as a day to celebrate the Australian lifestyle, for others it's a painful reminder of death, disease, and cultures now lost forever.
    Australia Day marks the arrival of the First Fleet into Sydney Cove in 1788, a date which is mourned by many indigenous people.
    "We see it as Invasion Day," Warren Mundine, chairman of the Australian Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council, told CNN.
    Tens of thousands of indigenous people were killed during the colonization of Australia, both deliberately and through disease and starvation. The British considered the continent to be "terra nullius" or "nobody's land," despite the estimated 750,000 to 1 million indigenous people living there at the time.
    "The 26th of January is the day that the British came to invade, which led to massacres, the loss of land and the destruction of Aboriginal societies," Mundine said.
    "We see that as a bad date and we'd like to see another day selected."
    Revellers celebrate Australia Day in Melbourne in 2014.

    Division and dispute