South Australia’s Australian of the Year finalist says Australia Day should be moved away from January 26 so it can become a public holiday celebrated by everyone.

Key points:

  • AFL executive Tanya Hosch is SA’s Australian of the Year finalist
  • She says the date of Australia Day should be changed
  • She says she debated about whether to accept the nomination

Tanya Hosch, a Torres Strait Islander woman who is the AFL’s executive general manager for inclusion and social policy, says it is time for a mature debate to permanently change the date.

“I’m definitely one of those Australians who think we’ve got an opportunity for a nation-building moment to change the date that we hold Australia Day on,” Ms Hosch told ABC News presenter Emma Rebellato in an Instagram Live interview yesterday.

“We haven’t celebrated Australia Day on this date for decades and decades and decades — it’s only been about 20 years — so we definitely have an opportunity, I think, to revisit that date.

“Because we have the conversation perennially — like every 12 months, we have the conversation — we have the same debates and the same ideas, but we don’t ever seem to resolve it.”


Ms Hosch was adopted at three years old by an Aboriginal father and a white mother.

She grew up in the north-eastern Adelaide suburb of Gilles Plains and now lives in the same area.

She was the first Indigenous person, and second woman, on the AFL’s executive leadership team.

Tanya Hosch stands with AFL players, coaches and executives around the AFL’s Yes logo in support of same-sex marriage.(AAP: AFL House)

Unsure about accepting nomination

She said she debated about whether or not to accept the nomination as South Australia’s Australian of the Year.

“When I got notice that I had been nominated for this award, I really needed to think about whether I would accept this nomination,” she said.

“But I think as a mature nation there’s a whole lot of things we have the opportunity to do to build our nation — to make it stronger, to address the sorts of things that often create dissent and pain for people and tap into some significant trauma.

“I think as a country, if we want Australia Day to be a day that is truly unifying for all the stories that make up our nation, then reviewing the date — thinking about it differently — I don’t think there’s anything to fear in that, there’s jut some great opportunities.”


Role in Adam Goodes documentaries

Ms Hosch championed the first statue of an Indigenous AFL player, Nicky Winmar, and instigated a review of anti-vilification policy within the sporting code.

Ms Hosch also helped to secure an apology from the AFL for former Sydney Swans player Adam Goodes, following the racial vilification he endured throughout the final years of his football career.

Goodes was criticised by some Aboriginal leaders for not pushing for Australia Day’s date to be changed when he was Australian of the Year in 2014.

Ms Hosch worked with the producers of the two 2019 films about Goodes, The Final Quarter and The Australian Dream.

She said the documentaries helped people — including footballers Goodes played against — recognise how long he had to endure the “horrible behaviour”.

“It was a real pleasure, privilege and a great opportunity to work with the filmmakers to say ‘how do I harness this moment?'” Ms Hosch said.

The 2021 Australian of the Year will be announced on January 25.