Most of the people reading this have, in the past, celebrated ‘Australia Day’ on January 26. To be fair, what the majority of people, including us, were doing was having a booze-filled BBQ on a public holiday. A day that’s only been recognised as a public holiday since 1994.
However, January 26 is not a day of celebration for our country — instead, it’s one of shame. It’s the date where our country was colonised by a British fleet and where the country was, so-called and recognised by the British, to be founded. For First Nations people, it’s a day of mourning and immense pain; it’s known as Invasion Day or Survival Day.
The call to change the date has been simmering for a while. In 2017, radio station triple j moved their Hottest 100 from January 26 to a nearby date. However, it seems that only in 2020, following the very public and brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of US police, that white people have examined their own privilege and investigated how systematic racism — both overt and covert — operates within our country.
It has been a long-overdue public reckoning, looking at the colonising, slaughter, murder, and mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders since their land was invaded in 1788 — that continues today.
With greater knowledge, comes greater responsibility. Although tens of thousands of people attended Bla(c)k Lives Matter rallies and protests in 2020, this was just a starting point — not a one-off element of support. The calls to Change the Date are coming harder than they ever have before.
If you’re committed to being an anti-racist ally and want to support the Change the Date and BLM movement this year, here are some ways you can support it.
Change the Date Rallies, Marches and Events
ANTaR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation) has an extensive list of Survival Day events, several of which are included below:
— Invasion Day Rally, Djarrbarrgalli/Sydney Domain
This is a protest and march, held on January 26 at Djarrbarrgalli (Sydney Domain). More information can be found on the event on Facebook and those who are attending should register their information on the COVIDSafe form.
— Yabun Festival, online
The largest one-day celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in Australia, the Yabun Festival will be live-streamed from three isolated venues.
— Tandanya Survival Day, Tandanya/Adelaide
This event is currently sold out, but there are a few first-come, first-serve tickets at the door. It’s a live concert and community day held at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute.
— Birak Concert, Boorloo/Perth
A free event held at the Supreme Court Gardens, this is an annual concert celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultures. There’s a stellar lineup of Indigenous entertainment, with additional kids entertainment, exciting workshops, food vendors and more.
— Invasion Day Rally, Nipaluna/Hobart
Another COVID-safe rally, there are two locations for this event — Parliament House lawns and Devonport Bluff.
— Invasion Day March, Darumbal/Rockhampton
Non-Indigenous community members are invited to attend and march/rally in solidarity at this event, which starts at Central Park Southside at 9am.
— Belgrave Survival Day, Woiwurung/Belgrave
This is one of Victoria’s largest Survival Day events. This year, it includes music by Uncle Gnarnayarrahe Waitairie, as well as an advanced screening of ‘Higher Ground’.
— Survival Day March, Ngunawal/Canberra
— Invasion Day March, Larrakia/Darwin
Organised by Uprising of the People, this march will gather at Civic Park at 10am for an 11:45am start.
Other ways to support Change the Date
There are a plethora of reasons you may not be able to physically attend a march – and for that, we understand. However, there are still other ways to support the movement.
— Change It Ourselves
This movement is for employees and employers to have an open conversation about ‘Australia Day’, and discuss the possibility of substituting the public holiday for another day.
— Make a pledge
ANTaR offers an online pledge you can sign, that says you won’t celebrate Australia Day, but instead will have a conversation with family and friends. You can sign it here.
— Sign a petition
Although several BLM petitions have closed since last year, a petition to prevent deaths in custody caused by improper restraint is still looking for signatures.
— Donate money
Along with pledging a monthly donation to an Indigenous charity of your choice, there are also a couple of fundraisers you can donate to including Justice for David Dungay Junior and Justice for Yuendumu.