For non-Indigenous Australians, January 26 has in recent years been celebrated as ‘Australia Day’; for Indigenous Australians, it’s Invasion Day – a day of mourning and protests. The date, which marks the arrival of the First Fleet, has become a day of mourning for what those tall ships from England brought with them—death, suffering, and the beginning of what’s now over two centuries of injustice and dispossession to First Nations people.
Being a good ally to Indigenous Australians is about more than talking the talk; you need to walk the walk. Which means that you need to take action, too, but on January 26 that could be very literal – by walking in an Invasion Day protest.
If you’re still a bit unsure why many people want Australia Day to be shifted from January 25, this excerpt from Crystal Andrews‘ book written in consultation with Tiddas 4 Tiddas founder Marlee Silva goes over the importance of recognising Australia’s long Indigenous history, including the colonisation of the land after English explorers first entered Gadigal land over 250 years ago.
Thousands of people mark January 26 as a day to mourn those who have passed, and hold protests and demonstrations to fight for Indigenous rights. Just about every major capital city holds rallies and gatherings to call for action on things such as transparency around Indigenous deaths in custody, the inclusion of First Nations people in the Australian constitution and changing the date of Australia Day from January 26.
So here is a list of gatherings, protests, demonstrations, rallies, and marches on Tuesday, January 26, for you to get along to and stand in solidarity with First Nations people across the mainland and our surrounding islands.
All of these marches and protests are strictly COVID safe as well, with protesters needing to show up in masks, keep socially distanced, and stick in groups to abide with their state’s current social gathering rules. As always, if you feel unwell on the day, please stay home and support through paying the rent and participating online instead.
For those who want to stay home and away from the crowds, NITV has a full day of excellent programming lined up for January 26, kicking off with a Sunrise Ceremony and rolling coverage of all the protests and rallies across the country.
Invasion Day 2021 Protests & Gatherings
Where to attend: Eora Nation / Warrang / Sydney
INVASION DAY 2021 RALLY
Meet at 9am at Djarrbarrgalli (The Domain) for the protest and march. Protesters are asked to register through the rally’s COVID-safe form for contact tracing, and must wear a face mask and bring hand sanitiser (marshalls will also have masks, sanitiser, and water bottles on the day, as well as a QR code check-in).
At the time of writing, the NSW COVID-19 restrictions state that outdoor gatherings must not exceed 500 people, and the organisers are urging people to maintain social distancing.
This year, the Yabun Stage, Speak Out and Corroboree will be beamed in from three different venues in inner Sydney – the Seymour Centre, the University of Sydney, and Victoria Park respectively. The Yabun Stage will have very limited attendance, while Speak Out and Corroboree are closed events and will be live-streamed only.
Where to attend: Kulin Nation / Naarm / Melbourne
INVASION DAY DAWN SERVICE
Meet at 4:30am for a smoke ceremony at Kings Domain Resting Place, near Linlithgow Avenue opposite Janet Lady Clarke Rotunda, with the service to begin at 5:00am.
Attendees must register through the website, and bring their registration confirmation along on the day. Attendees will also need to check in on the day at both the dawn service and the following breakfast and reflection.
Event information is available here.
INVASION DAY RALLY
Meet at 10:30am at Parliament House, Spring Street. Face masks must be worn and hand sanitiser must be brought and used frequently. As the current COVID-19 rules state that people can only gather outside in groups of up to 100 people, attendees are required to organise in groups of no more than 100, and maintain a 10m distance from other groups. Marshalls will be actively maintaining this on the day.
BALIT NURRAN / SHARE THE SPIRIT FESTIVAL
Share The Spirit Festival is a limited attendance event at Sidney Myer Music Bowl this year, with ticket allocations exhausted. The whole event will also be live-streamed to the big screens in Federation Square, and online. The event kicks off from 12pm on the 26th, with performances from Archie Roach, Alice Skye, and heaps more.
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Where to attend: Kaurna Country / Tandanya / Adelaide
SURVIVAL DAY 2021 CONCERT
Survival Day 2021 is on at the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute from 1-7 pm, with an indoor event happening this year to comply with South Australia’s current COVID restrictions.
The limited number of tickets allocated are now exhausted, but there will be a small number of tickets available at the door on a first-come first-served basis. More information can be found over on the Facebook event.
Where to attend: Whadjuk Noongar Country / Boorloo / Perth
INVASION DAY RALLY
An Invasion Day rally is currently planned for Forest Place, on Wellington Street in Boorloo (Perth), from 1pm, with attendees asked to bring masks and hand sanitiser to keep things COVID-safe. Check out the Facebook event for more information.
Where to attend: Yuggera Land / Meanjin / Brisbane
INVASION DAY RALLY
Meet at 8am for a flag-raising event at Musgrave Park, or gather at 10am at Queens Gardens for the rally and march commencing at 11am up to Musgrave Park. Local Blak businesses will also have a pop-up mini market across the event locations. Protesters are required to bring face masks and hand sanitiser.
Where to attend: Ngunnawal Country / Canberra
CANBERRA SURVIVAL DAY MARCH
Canberra’s Survival Day march is currently scheduled for Garema Place in Civic from 10am. We don’t have a lot of details yet, but keep an eye on the Facebook event for more information.
Where to attend: Larrakia Country / Darwin
JANUARY 26: ALWAYS WAS, ALWAYS WILL BE
January 26: Survival Day is on at Civic Park in Darwin City from 10am, and protesters are encouraged to practice good hygiene and gather in clusters to aid with social distancing.
Where to attend: Mparntwe / Alice Springs
Meet at the Court Lawns from 10am.
Where to attend: muwinina Country / Hobart
CHANGE THE DATE RALLY
This year’s Change The Date rally is being held in two places on muwinina Country this year, with a rally in the south-east Nipaluna / Hobart starting at Parliament House Lawns at 11.45 for a midday start, and another on the state’s northern coast in Limilinaturi / Devonport Bluff, starting near the surf lifesaving club at the same time.
Both gatherings are COVID-safe events, and the state’s distancing and sanitising rules apply.
Common Grace also has an extensive list of more regional protests, rallies, and gatherings happening on January 26, so if you’re keen on standing in solidarity and holding space for your local Indigenous community, you can find something closer to home on the Common Grace website.