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Who Are We?

Almost one in four of Australia’s population of over 21 million was born overseas, and 43 per cent have one or both parents born overseas.

Over 120 languages other than English are spoken in Victoria, and about half of the overseas born arriving since 1981 came from Asian countries.

Metropolitan Australia now has 14 million people rising to 18 million by 2027. 7.7 million people live in non-metropolitan Australia (about half on the coast, about half in the bush) rising  to 9.7 million by 2027.

Between 2001 and 2006, the top countries for increased migration to Australia were China, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the Philippines. The most significant decrease in immigration in that period was from Italy, Poland, Netherlands and Malta.

Separate Australian citizenship became law for the first time in 1949. The waves of non-British immigration after 1945 led to a new role for Australia Day, one that celebrated new citizenship with naturalisation ceremonies (now citizenship ceremonies).

The name “Australia” is derived from the Latin Australis, meaning “Southern”. Legends of an “unknown land of the south” (terra australis incognita) dating back to Roman times were commonplace in mediæval geography.  While not the first use of the term, the name “Australia” was popularised by the 1814 work A Voyage to Terra Australis by the navigator Matthew Flinders, the first recorded person to circumnavigate Australia.  In 1824, the Admiralty agreed that the continent should be known officially as “Australia”.

For many Indigenous Australians, issues about the date came to a head during the Bicentennial celebrations in 1988.   Invasion Day and Survival Day are terms used to emphasise outstanding issues or unfinished business in regard to Land Rights, Reconciliation and other concerns.

In Victoria, the inclusion of Indigenous people and ceremonies has been an important part of the development of Australia Day – through a formal Welcome to Country on Australia Day at the Flag Raising, music, dance and other activities. The date has one advantage – it keeps reminding us that the land wasn’t empty when the First Fleet arrived, that an old and different culture was here long before European settlement and that Reconciliation is an important part of Australia Day.