This post may contain images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have passed away.
Increasingly, January 26, our national holiday or ‘Australia Day’, has been recognised as a poorly chosen date for a celebration.
It marks the date on which Captain Arthur Phillip stepped off his ship and founded a colonial settlement at Warrane or Sydney Cove. It’s a date that will forever be linked to the decades of violence and oppression that were to follow for the traditional custodians of this land. Symbolically, it’s a marker of genocide. Not a thought that goes well with a beer and BBQ if you ask us.
While national and state events will be held celebrating the founding of the nation we live in, events recognising and honouring the past sufferings and the continuing strength of Indigenous culture continue to grow in size and appeal.
These events, and the day itself, are variously referred to as Survival Day, Invasion Day, and Day of Mourning events.
Events this year, like last year, may be a little more muted due to the ongoing COVID risk and, if you’re going, please remember to wear a mask and social distance where possible. There have also been reports of far-right and anti-vax groups seeking to infiltrate some of the bigger events and marches so just be conscious of who’s around you.
If you’re looking to attend one, here’s a list of exactly where and when you can do that.
Survival Day Events 2022
New South Wales
Yabun is the big one in Sydney. Now held annually at Victoria Park, the event will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with live music, speeches, and market stalls where you can support local Indigenous artists and creatives.
The event is free to enter but they rely on donations so make sure to chip in if you can afford it. It starts at 12pm and runs until 10pm. A live stream is available online at the Yabun website or you can listen to performances on Koori Radio.
Linked with Yabun, the Day of Mourning March is an annual procession through the city and into the festival. It’s run by the Indigenous Social Justice Association and the non-profit Fighting In Solidarity Towards Treaties. Speeches will be given from families and campaigners fighting against injustice before the procession towards Victoria Park.
The event is free and will start gathering at 10am at Town Hall. It’s expected to last three hours.
WugulOra means One Mob and this event is a sacred and reflective start to January 26. A smoking ceremony will be held, cleansing the way for new beginnings, before dances and singing from Indigenous performers, including the Koomurri Aboriginal Dance Troupe.
The event is free and will be held on the Walumil lawns at Barangaroo Reserve from 7:30am to 8:30am. The event will also be broadcast on ABC TV and iView.
Australian Capital Territory
Nainmurra Nguurruu, or ‘Australia Day in the Capital,’ encourages Canberrans to come together, reflect, respect and celebrate the Australian experience in its entirety.
Kicking off on January 25th, the event will see projections displayed on the National Carillion and other national monuments before a “meaningful First Nations Event” at 5:30pm.
From 10:30am on the 26th, the site will host engaging displays of cultural diversity including exhibitions, craft experiences, and talks with musicians performing throughout the day. A First Nations concert will be held between 6pm and 10pm, headlined by Busby Marou. Entry is free for everyone.
It’s been 50 years since the founding of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and to mark the occasion, 500 delegates will be gathering at the site for a three day event from the 25th to the 27th, celebrating survivial and honouring the past. An Invasion Day march will also lead from the Embassy to Parliament House on the 26th.
The event is free however the organisers encourage you to register. The march will start from the Embassy at 10am.
The National Film and Sound Archive will be hosting a free screening of the documentary Incarceration Nation, giving voice to victims of systemic bias and exploring the shocking legacy of systemic oppression against Indiegnous people.
The screening is free but bookings are required. It kicks off at 6pm at ARC Cinema.
Promising to be a all-out showcase of Indigenous talent, Our Survivial Day will start with a Welcome to Country and a smoking ceremony before a host of live acts performing hip hop, punk, poetry, and didgeridoo. It’s run by the all female Our Songlines collective and offers traditional food stalls, clothing, and a chance to reconnect with country.
The event is free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who book in advnace and just $38 for general admission. It’s held at The Briars in Mount Martha and will run from 12pm to 6pm.
Choosing to go online this year to protect the community from the ongoing COVID risk, the Belgrave Survival Day is celebrating their 15 year anniversary. Performances from Dave Arden, Pirritu, Yeng Gali Mullum, and Deniece Hudson were scheduled but the group is currently working out how to shift things. Stay tuned for more updates.
First hosted in 2020, this year’s We-Akon Dilinja, meaning ‘mourning reflection’, will be presented both in-person and online by the Boonwurrung Land and Sea Council. It recognises the journey and experience of the Yaluk-ut Weelam clan of the Boon Wurrung people and is hosted in harmony with Port Phillip’s Australia Day citizenship ceremony – “an integral step towards reconciliation,” they write.
The event is free and begins at 6am at Alfred Square.
The Koorie Engagement Action Group are inviting everyone to “stand in solidarity to peacefully reflect on those who have gone before us” at their dawn service.
The event is free and will start at 5:30am at the Lake Wendouree viewpoint.
Kicking things off early on Jan 25th, Deadly Events are hosting a night of music and comedy from First Nations artists at The Retreat Hotel.
Bookings are essential and the event starts at 7pm and runs until 11pm.
This year, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre’s Invasion Day Rally has gone digital. The event includes a Welcome to County, a one minute silence to honour Aboriginal lives lost during invasion, and a dance ceremony. Speakers include Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, Jessica Munday, Richard Condie, Jimmy Everett, and Rodney Gibbins.
The event starts at 11:45 and is free to attend online.
An acknowledgement of First Nations people is being hosted by Kaurna elders at Elder Park, welcoming everyone to participate. The event features music, art, and speeches to bring in Survival Day.
The event is free but bookings are essential. It starts at 8am.
Hosted and largely organised by Natasha Wanganeen, lead actress in Rabbit Proof Fence, Adelaide’s Survival Day event will see speeches and performances take place as well as a march.
The event is free and will begin at 12pm at Tarndanyangga Victoria Square.
Celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultures, the annual Birak Concert boasts a stellar lineup of Indigenous entertainment. This year’s lineup will feature a Welcome to Country, Lilly Gogos, Flewnt, and Pipeline Band. It will be hosted by Phil Walley-Stak and is “the perfect opportunity for all Australians to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture”.
The event is free and will start at the Supreme Court Gardens in Riversdale at 3pm and run until 7:30pm. Those who can’t attend in person will be able to hear it on Noongar Radio.
Local Indigenous leaders are hosting a protest rally through the streets of the city. It’s unconnected to the above Birak concert but will feature a walk from Forrest Chase shopping centre through to the concert, allowing anyone who wants to attend to line up their activities. Speeches will be given at the start of the rally as well as performances from local artists.
The march is free to join and starts at 12pm.
The Gimmie Club is hosting a day of celebration of the continuing survival of Australia’s First Nations people filled with family-friendly Indigenous performances from the region’s leading established and emerging artists. Acts from around the Kimberley area include Stephen Pigram & The Big Room String Band, John Bennett, Struggling Kings, and many more.
The event begins at 12pm and will run until 10pm. Tickets are $15.
Yuggera People are hosting the annual Invasion Day Rally through the streets of the Queensland capital from Queens Garden to Musgrave Park. There will be speeches, music, and food stalls at the finish along with sign making beforehand.
The event is free and starts at Queens Garden at 8am.
Big Eye Threatre have also chosen to take their Survival Day event online this year, streaming the proceedings live instead. The event is a celebration and commemoration of First Nations people and their way of life through storytelling, dance, and craft workshops.
The event starts at 7am and you can find the link here.
Hosted by the Full Throttle Theatre Company, this Survival Day event is a moment for people in Townsville to reflect, commemorate, respect and celebrate the survival of our First Nation’s people and their continued strong cultural connections. It features a dawn service, a Survival Day walk, market stalls, storytelling, and workshops.
The event is free and starts at 6:30am at Strand Park.
A “whole-of-community” multicultural celebration focusing on reflection, celebration, and respect will take place on South Stradbroke Island with a smoking ceremony, Indigenous language events, storytelling, dance, and walks along the South Stradbroke Island trail.
The event is free and will start at 10am, running until 4pm, at Couran Cove Resort.
Darwin is going all out with a full day of Indigenous events. Kicking off early, the programme runs through musical performances, arts exhibitions, storytelling, and visual projections. ARIA award winners Electric Fields and up and comers King Stingray will be performing at the convention centre. It’s set to be the biggest staged event in Darwin’s history under the banner “reflect, respect, celebrate.”
The event is free and starts with a smoking ceremony at Darwin Waterfront Precinct Lagoon at 8:30am.
Right up in eastern Arnhem land, the Nhulunbuy Indigenous Corporation will be hosting a day of performing arts and community events drawing on the talents of the surrounding Yolgnu community that will be “meaningful, respectful, and reflective.”
The event is free and starts at 10am.