How to respectfully celebrate Australia Day in a corporate environment
Australia Day
Tomorrow marks Australia Day, which we’re aware sparks controversy. But, to make way for a safe space and to have open dialogue and discussions, we’ve outlined some approaches to respectfully celebrate the day in the office.

We have mixed emotions writing this blog, but because it’s Australia Day tomorrow (yes, we know it’s quite controversial), we thought we’d address the elephant in the room—mainly because the boss is English and loves wearing Australian gear.

It’s no secret that plenty of people are against the idea of celebrating this public holiday for reasons that most of you would know. For years there have been questions buzzing around like ‘has Australia Day lost its purpose?’, ‘should the date be moved?’, and ‘how should we celebrate Australia Day respectfully?’ which is what we’re here to touch on. 

It can be a controversial day, so we thought, why not address some ways to respectfully celebrate Australia Day in the office.

  • Acknowledgement of Country

You’ve more than likely heard of the Acknowledgement of Country—an opportunity to acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Owners and ongoing custodians of the land. So, before you begin any form of celebration, remember to acknowledge the people before you respectfully, keeping in mind that anyone in the office can deliver the Acknowledgement of Country.

  • Acknowledge the past losses

Remember that while you’re about to have a day off work (who doesn’t love a short work week?), we should acknowledge that First Peoples will be reminded of their past losses on and around Australia Day. So, instead of celebrating the day without a care in the world, remember that people are mourning too.

  • Make sure everyone is educated

If possible, talking to a local First Peoples community member might be beneficial for your office to become more informed about the controversial date. Understanding these different perspectives will help you develop a respectful approach that you can share with your colleagues, family, and friends.

  • Some companies offer another day for the public holiday

Instead of taking the public holiday on the 26th of January, you could give your employees the option to use this free day off whenever they want throughout the year. This could give someone a long weekend, a day off when they feel burnt out, or an extra day towards their next holiday.

When acknowledging Australia Day within the office, you should also hold a moment of silence at the beginning of your celebrations to reflect on our nation's history. With these in mind, you can make a start on commemorating Australia Day respectfully.