We have to have a date that's more inclusive than January 26, which is the date that's chosen as the landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove. To most Indigenous Australians it really reflects the day on which our world came crashing down."
Mick Dodson, Australian of the Year 2009
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 ‘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?
The debate about "changing the date" is about more than just a day. It's about who we are as a country and whether we remain trapped by our history and paralysed by the failure to imagine any relationship with Aboriginal peoples other than assimilation.
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
- Colonial Frontier Massacres in Eastern Australia 1788-1872
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.
We'll have a stall at the Yabun Festival in Sydney's Victoria Park (near Broadway) - if you're around, feel free to pop by the stall and say hi.
Amnesty International Australia always puts together a list of Survival Day and Invasion Day events that are happening around the country. This guide can be found here.
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 has a Survival Day playlist 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. We've been sharing Survival Day content on our Facebook page which you can check out here.
5. Promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices
Australian politicians and the media are very good at talking about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, rather than listening. As a result, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are often ignored, as evidenced by the Government's decision to ignore the Uluru Statement.
The @IndigenousX twitter account is a platform for Indigenous people to share their knowledge, opinions and experiences.
6. Speak out, be active and be political
Ultimately, issues of inequality and injustice are political. Don't leave it to others to take on the issues, as you may disagree with them as how to they do so. Make your thoughts, ideas and solutions heard politically. Organisations like the Edmund Rice Centre, ANTaR and Amnesty International can't do the job alone.
Some ideas include contacting your local MP to demand they take action this year to support the Uluru Statement or calling on the Parliament to take action to reduce incarceration rates by signing our petition.