How to approach 26 January respectfully
26 January is an opportunity to promote truth-telling, understanding, respect, healing and reconciliation.
As the peak body for advancing reconciliation in NSW, Reconciliation NSW promotes respectful, just and equitable communities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and all people in NSW.
We encourage local government, organisations and community groups to approach 26 January respectfully. This includes recognising the honoured place and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our nation’s history, being considerate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may see the day as one of mourning, and seeking opportunities to celebrate the survival, strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures.
We also encourage the NSW community to engage respectfully in conversations around changing the date and the commemoration of Australia Day.
The Australia Reconciliation Barometer measures the progress of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. Read the 2020 main findings and report here.
Read the Women’s Agenda Article If Australians are “all in this together”, changing the date of our national day should be a no-brainer
Read our letter of Support for Changing the Date of Australia Day Celebrations in the Inner West Council area.
Here are some simple ways to mark 26 January respectfully and acknowledge local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities:
• Be curious and educate yourself – reading more about the history of Australia during colonial times, such as during the frontier wars, or about the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can enhance our understanding. It is easy to connect with the history of the place in which you live and the connection to traditional lands that continues today. The information is there, and in most cases, it’s a mere click away. Visit our What can I do? page to find out how you can become an Indigenous Ally and see these further educational resources here;
• Consult with local Lands Councils, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and community members and inform yourself of their views on the date to help you develop a respectful and informed approach
• Invite Elders to play special roles in any Australia Day events you are organising, including through ‘Welcome to Country’. Be open and receptive to hearing their stories and reflections on what the day means to them and understand and respect their feelings if they do not wish to take part
• Encourage all guest speakers to acknowledge what this day is. It should not be left solely to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to acknowledge the realities of our histories and what this date means * Acknowledge local Aboriginal Nations, Elders and communities in the event and promotional material
• Incorporate ways of acknowledging the injustices that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander have experienced
• Consider flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at half mast, or request your local council to do so as one way of recognising the loss, hurt and suffering that 26 January embodies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
• Consider holding a minute of silence at the start of the formal proceedings to reflect on these injustices
• Hold celebratory events on an alternative date(s).
• Share your new knowledge and have a respectful conversation with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours about what you’ve learned and the different perspectives;
Attend one of the ‘Survival Day’ or ‘Invasion Day’ events
The ‘Yabun’ Festival, Online
The Vigil at Barangaroo Reserve, Sydney
Wugulora Morning Ceremony – Barangaroo, Sydney (online in 2021)
Invasion Day Rally, Hyde Park Sydney
Also regularly view our Events Calendar