Frontline youth service ReachOut is calling for a respectful debate about changing the date, ahead of Australia Day celebrations tomorrow. This is particularly important on social media, with Australians encouraged to think twice before posting.

To coincide with Australia Day, ReachOut is posting information about the history of Australia Day alongside helpseeking resources.

ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas said that Australia Day as an official national public holiday of celebration had only been around for 25 years, many young people had never known it as anything else or were unaware of the history behind it.

“For many Australians, young and old, they just want to know what it’s all about so they can make up their own minds, and that’s what we’re focussed on,” Mr Nicholas said.

“At the end of the day Australians should celebrate our national day, but it is a good opportunity to reflect on, and discuss, whether a more inclusive day is appropriate.

“It is clear that celebrating Australia Day on the 26th January – the date of the arrival of the First Fleet at Port Jackson – causes genuine distress for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Given the sensitivities we ask that the debate be respectful as arguments and violence over changing the date will only continue to divide Australia.”

Mr Nicholas suggested the same goes for social media.

“In many ways, social media has become the new place for name calling and abusive behaviour all rolled into a handful of keyboard characters – and it’s just as damaging to people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“So before jumping on Twitter or Facebook, take a breath and visit ReachOut.com where we have put tougher some great resources.”

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