The Socceroos’ first ever Indigenous goal-scorer, Travis Dodd, reflects on Australia Day.


Growing up, for me, Australia Day was always a day for celebration. It was all I knew, everyone around me celebrated so I did as well.  

My parents separated when I was young and my brother and I grew up with my mum who is not Indigenous. 

I grew up not really understanding my culture. Let me be clear; I don’t view this as a fault of either parent; it’s just the way that it was when I grew up. I didn’t know the significance of important dates such as Australia Day and the history behind it.  

It wasn’t until I was much older that I came to understand what Australia Day was all about.  

Since then, Australia Day has been about reflection for me. Reflecting on what those First Nation people must have been thinking when they saw white people for the first time and the horrific events that followed. 

Reflecting on why we now celebrate a day where land was forcibly taken from its original owners. 

I don’t feel angry or upset or get into arguments with people about changing the date.  

Sure, some people feel strongly that it shouldn’t be changed and that’s OK. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.   

What’s happened has happened and nothing will change that, and I get it.  

I just don’t get why we have to celebrate a on a day that is so significant for such a large population of the country.  

I find it somewhat ironic that we (as a general population) across the country are OK to read an acknowledgement of country, have a National Sorry Day (an annual event held in Australia on 26 May since 1998 to remember and commemorate the mistreatment of the country’s Indigenous peoples) acknowledging the terrible practices of the past, yet also as a country we celebrate a day that the land was taken away from those same people.

I don’t really have an opinion on what the date should be changed to, but I do believe that people should be open to understanding why First Nation people around the country see it as a day of mourning and not celebration. 

What I see as more important is Australians working together to better understand, reflect and appreciate the history of First Nations people and use these opportunities to find a better way to include our people and our culture.