Australia Day is 26 January, a date whose only significance is to mark the coming to Australia of the white people in 1788. It’s not a date that is particularly pleasing for Aborigines. The British were armed to the teeth and from the moment they stepped foot on our country, the slaughter and dispossession of Aborigines began.”
Michael Mansell, Aboriginal activist
26 January is not a day of celebration for many Australians, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It marks the beginning of the invasion, the dispossession of their land, violence, massacres and genocide. That is why the day is often called ‘Invasion Day’, ‘Day of Mourning’, ‘Survival Day’ or, since 2006, ‘Aboriginal Sovereignty Day’.
The fact Australia's "national day" is celebrated on 26 January is a sign that we have never come to terms with the truth about our history. What does it say about our country that we celebrate our so-called "national day" on a date that marked the beginning of violent conflict?
For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 26 January is an opportunity to celebrate the survival of their culture and people. According to Tanya Denning-Orman, NITV Channel Manager: "Survival Day acknowledges the mixed nature of January 26. It recognises the invasion and our history, but invasion doesn’t frame us as a people. We are still here, our languages are still spoken and our cultures are strong."
Here are five ways you can stand in solidarity with Indigenous Australians this Survival Day.
1. Understand and learn the truth about Australian history
"White Australia has a black history." Some people might not be comfortable with that, but as a nation, we can only move forward if we are honest and mature about our history. There are some great online resources that highlight the truth, including:
- Here's why Australia's National Day of Celebration is a Day of Mourning for Indigenous People
- The Truth Collective
- Australia Day - Invasion Day
- Stories of Survival
2. Attend a Survival Day event
There are Survival Day and Invasion Day events across the country. Some of the main events are listed below and if you google "Invasion Day events" or "Survival Day events" you will be able to find an event near you.
- Sydney NSW - Yabun Festival Victoria Park, Camperdown 10am to 7pm
- Coffs Harbour NSW - Saltwater Freshwater Festival, Botanical Gardens 8.30am to 5pm
- Byron Bay NSW - Celebration of the Survival of Indigenous Culture - Byron Bay Main Beach Park, Camperdown 11am to 2.30pm
- Dubbo NSW - Wambuul Freshwater Festival, Ollie Robbins Oval, 10.30am - 4pm
- Adelaide SA - Survival, Semaphore Foreshore, Semaphore 11.30am to 6.30pm
- Belgrave VIC - Belgrave Survival Day - Borthwick Park, Belgrave 12pm to 5pm
- Melbourne VIC - Share the Spirit, Treasuary Gardens, Melbourne 10am to 7pm
- Perth WA - Birak Concert, Supreme Court Gardens, Perth 3pm to 7:30pm
- Brisbane QLD - Invasion Day March, Parliament House, Brisbane 10am
- Townsville QLD - Survival Day Townsville, Perfume Garden, Townsville 11am to 4pm
- Canberra ACT - Invasion Day, Aboriginal Tent Embassy 9am for 10am march
- Hobart TAS - Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, Elizabeth St 11am for 11.30 March
3. Support Indigenous music
Tune into the live broadcast of music at the Yabun Festival on Koori Radio in Sydney (93.7FM) or stream it live here. You can also catch the top 100 Indigenous songs on 3KND in Melbourne (1503AM) or stream it live here.
If you're organising an event, put together a playlist of songs that recognise the truth about 26 January. NITV has put together its Top 40 Survival Day playlist and there are a number of Invasion Day and Survival Day playlists on Spotify.
4. Share the truth on social media
Social media is a great way to show your network of family and friends that you are taking a stand in solidarity with Indigenous Australians. If you see an article, video or image about Invasion Day or Survival Day, post it and share it.
5. Help the campaign against Indigenous incarceration
Indigenous incarceration rates are higher now than they were in 1991 when the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report was released. The majority of recommendations contained in the report have never been implemented. Indigenous incarceration is symptomatic of the injustices and disadvantage experienced by Indigenous peoples and we need a better approach.