5 Ways To 'Un-celebrate' Australia Day on January 26

You may be surprised to learn that January 26 has only been a national public holiday since 1994. Sixty years before this, in 1934, Aboriginal Australians marked January 26 as a Day Of Mourning and Protest—so historically it was a day of mourning long before it was a day of national ‘pride’.

We believe that celebrating our country on January 26 ignores the violence and trauma that this day represents for Indigenous Australians. It seems pretty simple to us—we can’t celebrate what we love about this country on a day that marks the declaration of British sovereignty. A day that symbolises the start of decades of discrimination, genocide and slavery.

Of course, changing the date won’t solve the deep problems of injustice, trauma, and discrimination that are a result of colonisation, but it feels like a step in the right direction.

If you share our beliefs, here are our suggestions for how to commemorate January 26:

  1. Attend a Survival Day event—The Sisters for Reconciliation are holding a Celebration of the Survival of Indigenous Culture from 11am to 3pm in Byron Bay Main Beach Park.

    You can find events all across the country here: www.amnesty.org.au/survival-day-events/

  2. Donate to organisations that are fighting to close the gap and protect country and culture:

    AIME Mentoring Australia
    Children’s Ground
    Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council
    Aboriginal Literacy Foundation
    Enterprise Learning Projects

  3. Spend the day learning from Indigenous Australian voices—for too long our history has been told by white Australians, here are some books we recommend reading this January 26:

    Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe
    Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss
    Welcome To Country by Marcia Langton
    My Place by Sally Morgan

    There are SO many more books so head to your local book store or shop online (Indigenous publisher Magabala Books has a great selection).

    OR get your head out of the books and wrap the Pretty For An Aboriginal podcast around your ears.

  4. Support businesses that are either Indigenous owned and operated, or work closely with Indigenous people—here are some we love:

    Haus of Dizzy (Change The Date earrings)
    Yunmi (online store featuring products by Aboriginal entrepreneurs)
    Banaam (cultural intelligence consultants based on the Gold Coast)
    Gilimbaa (indigenous creative agency)
    Magpie Goose (fashion label)
    North (fashion label)

    Planet Corroboree in Byron Bay also has an epic range of books, art and clothing.

  5. Pump up the beats of Australia’s best Indigenous Australian artists—after moving the Hottest 100 countdown from January 26, Triple J will now be hosting programming committed to diversity. Here are a few Indigenous artists that are often on repeat in the studio:

    Black Rock Band
    Emily Wurramurra
    Electric Fields
    Yothu Yindi
    Kardajala Kirridarra
    Chris Tamwoy

    The Black Australia playlist on Spotify is also an epic place to start.

Want to learn more about the debate to #changethedate? Here are some handy resources:

To stand in solidarity with the #changethedate movement, we will be open as usual on Monday 28 January. Come cowork with us on Monday and we will donate the cost of your pass to AIME Mentoring Australia.

If you’re a business or employee, you can choose to celebrate Australia on another day too—check out changeitourselves.com.au