How to be true blue on Australia Day

Call yourself an Aussie? Here are five things you should – and shouldn’t – do to mark the national celebration on January 26.

Australia Day may the perfect excuse to fire up the barbecue and relax with friends, but as a collective we can indulge in some pretty damaging behaviours on the day.

So, here are some things you can do this January 26 to help yourself, and the world.

Avoid over-indulging in alcohol

“It’s rare to go to an Australia Day party that doesn’t involve alcohol,” says Happiness Hunter founder Fiona Reading.

But that doesn’t mean you have to drink.

“If you are solid in your decision, don’t feel the need to make excuses, own it,” says Fiona.

One good tip is to arrive with interesting alcohol alternatives or tasty non-alcoholic, low-sugar drinks like soda water or kombucha.

Fiona also suggests using wine glasses and adding ice and slices of lemon or lime.

If you are feeling the peer pressure, put your hand up to be the designated driver.

“This will give you a completely legitimate reason to not be drinking and it means you can leave when you are ready,” Fiona says.

Minimise meat consumption

Steak and sausages on the barbecue are quintessentially Australian.

However, with more people going vegan or vegetarian plant-based options are increasingly on the menu.

This means there are many exciting alternatives, including mouth-watering imitation beef patties and a growing array of vegetarian recipes perfect for parties.

But if you have a hankering for meat The Nutrition Guy’s Joel Feren says that’s fine.

“It’s not about one day its about what you do the other 364 days of the year, so you can let your hair down a little bit.

“Although, the dietitian in me says go easy on the snags,” he says.

Make it a plastic-free party

Inflatable thongs, decorative flags, disposable plates, knives and forks – there are plenty of ways to go nuts with plastic at a patriotic party.

But the Australian Marine Conservation Society advises avoiding plastic where possible at parties.

Try using real cups and plates or alternatively paper or wooden items if you prefer an easier clean up. Also, ditch the balloons and plastic decorations.

Be sun safe

Australia has among the highest UV levels in the world and with Australia Day smack-bang in the middle of summer it’s important to be prepared.

To avoid sun damage the Cancer Council recommends checking the UV index, find shade, slap on the sunscreen and wear a hat and sunnies.

Call out racism 

There’s no sugar-coating it; Australia Day has become a contentious time in recent years.

The important thing to remember is it’s OK for people to have different opinions, but not to be discriminatory or disrespectful.

If you hear or see something you don’t like, here are some tips on what to do:

  • Don’t stay silent; engage the person in conversation.
  • Remain calm.
  • Express empathy for the group being mistreated.
  • Focus on being fair and inclusive not arguing against that person’s opinions.
  • If all else fails walk away.

Written by Alex White.