Australian Broadcasting Corporation gives reporters green light to call January 26 ‘Invasion Day’

The West Australian
The ABC says its presenters and staff are free to refer to January 26 as ‘Invasion Day’.
Camera IconThe ABC says its presenters and staff are free to refer to January 26 as ‘Invasion Day’. Credit: News Corp

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation says its presenters and staff are free to refer to January 26 as “Invasion Day”.

It comes after the public broadcaster was forced to defend its decision to use the term in a story on the ABC News website in the face of public criticism.

The story, posted yesterday under the title “Australia Day/Invasion Day 2021 events for Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin”, went on to describe the January 26 public holiday as “one of the most polarising dates on the Australian calendar”.

Under its editorial policies, the ABC has a statutory obligation to “ensure that the gathering and presentation of news and information is impartial”.

One Nation’s Mark Latham said labelling the national holiday “Invasion Day” was “needlessly incendiary”.

An ABC spokeswoman told The Australian the broadcaster acknowledged the response generated by its use of the term “Invasion Day”, and said that while “Australia Day” remained the preferred terminology staff members were free to use other titles for the public holiday at their discretion.

This is a perennial issue.

“Some audience members have been asking about the ABC’s terminology in stories and coverage around Australia Day. This is a perennial issue,” she said.

“The default terminology for the ABC remains Australia Day. We also recognise and respect that community members use other terms for the event, including ‘26 January’, ‘Invasion Day’ and ‘Survival Day’, so our reporting and coverage reflect that.

“It is important to note, though, that both the Macquarie and the Australian Concise Oxford dictionaries list ‘Survival Day’ and ‘Invasion Day’ as roughly synonymous with ‘Australia Day’, either as ‘viewed by Indigenous people and their supporters’ (Macquarie), or ‘especially in Aboriginal Australian contexts’.

“Given the variety of terms in use, and the different perspectives on the day that the ABC is going to cover over the course of the long weekend, it would be inappropriate to mandate staff use any one term over others in all contexts.”

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