By Anton Lang ~
January the 26th is set aside every year here in Australia as the day we celebrate the founding of Australia. This was the day when Captain Arthur Phillip first claimed this vast Continent in the Southern Hemisphere as an English Colony on the 26th January 1788.
Years earlier, Captain James Cook had discovered the Eastern Coast of this Continent on his voyage of discovery and exploration in 1770.
This vast continent was already populated with indigenous people, but when Captain Phillip claimed the land, this was the first time a foreign Nation had come here to settle this vast Continent.
I have Posted a series on the discovery and settlement and the early days of Australian settlement, and the links to each of those five separate Posts are at the bottom of this Post.
The image shown above is of the Australian Coat Of Arms. It shows a Kangaroo and an Emu, animals native only to Australia. They are holding a shield, and on that shield are the coats of arms of the six States that make up Australia, those States being New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. As well as those 6 States, there are 2 territories, The Northern Territory, and The Australian Capital Territory.
This is in effect our National Day. It is a declared Public Holiday, and all across the Country there are literally many hundreds of public celebrations to commemorate the Day, in Capital Cities, and many cities and towns across Australia. Also on this day, there are numerous Citizenship ceremonies where people who have come here from other Countries are naturalised as Australian citizens.
THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA
Also on this day, a number of Australians are honoured for the selfless work that they do for the Community and also the Country. This award is known as the Order Of Australia, and there are three Award dates each year, the largest of which is on Australia Day. This award is mostly for people in every day life who have given years service to Australia in many forms, mainly in the community. The four levels of the Order of Australia are Companion (AC), Officer (AO), Member (AM), and Medal (OAM).
Today, 829 people in all were honoured with the Award of this Order of Australia in all four General Divisions of the Order. On top of that number, there were also Awards given for those who work with distinction in the Public Service, the Police Service, the Fire Service, the Ambulance Service, and in the Emergency Services. As well, those people serving with distinction in the three Military Services also received the Military version of the Oder Of Australia, also in those same four Divisions.
The following link details some of the most notable people awarded this rare honour for their service to Australia in their designated areas.
AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR
Also on this day, the Australian Of The Year is also announced. Each of the six States and two Territories nominate one person, and from that short list of 8 persons, the Australian of the year is selected.
This year that prestigious honour was bestowed on David Morrison, the former Chief of Army, and the nominee from The Australian Capital Territory. He was named the 2016 Australian of the Year for his commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion. The former Lieutenant General, who retired last year after 36 years in the Australian Army, was presented with the award by the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull at Parliament House in Canberra.
Lieutenant General Morrison, when he was in his position as Chief Of Army, made headlines in 2013 when he ordered soldiers to get out of the military if they could not respect women as equals, after it was revealed dozens of members were involved in the distribution of hundreds of sexually explicit emails. At the link below, there is a short video of that defining Address he made to the Military when the scandal was first discovered, and since that time, he has been a champion for the very things he received this prestigious award for.
The article concerning this important award is at the following link.
As well as the main award for Australian Of The Year, there are three other categories, Young Australian Of The Year, Senior Australian Of The Year, and Australia’s Local Hero, and each of those awards is detailed with a small section at the above link.
While ANZAC Day (April 25th) is perhaps the most solemn day on the Australian calendar, Australia day is the day we, as a collective Nation, celebrate our relatively long heritage.
I have detailed the early settlement of Australia in the five Posts at the following links.
Part 1. Australia (Part One) The Genesis
Part 3. Australia (Part Three) Arrival