New government grants are being offered for academics pursuing research on Australian history and culture.

Over the last decade, just three per cent of Commonwealth grants have gone to research on Australian issues.

Education Minister Dan Tehan says the nation needs a better understanding of how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture has impacted modern Australia.

“We hope this new initiative will bring a greater understanding of our Australian indigenous history, our heritage and the success of multiculturalism,” he said this week.

The $12 million program was announced on the Australia Day public holiday, which is marked by protests and calls to change the date to better reflect historical accuracy.

Understanding British colonisation from the perspective of Indigenous society may give modern Australians a more rounded view of their nation’s history.

As it stands, celebrating the date that the Union Jack was raised at Sydney Cove as the founding of Australia denies millennia of Aboriginal occupation before that date. Post-colonial Australia is a mere sliver of the true history of the continent.

This is just a small part of the reason that for many indigenous and non-indigenous people, January 26 is a day of sorrow and mourning.

The Wattle Day Association wants the date shifted to the first day of spring.

“[It] would recognise our connection to the beautiful and bountiful land that sustains us,” association president Suzette Searle said.

The ARC Special Research Initiative in Australian Society, History and Culture will fund around 40 projects providing between $20,000 to $100,000 each year for up to three years.