Activists wearing Indigenous rights defender tshirts at a Survival Day rally 2017

Australia Day could be a day which we all celebrate. Let's keep the day and change the date!

Australia Day should be for all Australians but for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who mark the day as one of invasion, survival and mourning – the 26 January is not a day for celebrations. We need to move to a date that is inclusive of all Australians.

Although Australia Day has only been officially nationally celebrated since 1994, protesting on 26 January is not new for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Protests about celebrating this date go back to the 1800s.

Momentum is growing for changing the date. On 26 January this year thousands turned out to large public protests and Survival events across the country. Local councils in Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and now NSW with Byron Bay joining in (but keeping their citizenship ceremonies on 26 January), have changed their celebrations to make them more culturally sensitive. Triple J have also recently announced that they will host the Hottest 100 on 27 January 2019.

Over the past few years Amnesty has supported #ChangetheDate on social media and via our website and by giving people a platform to speak on why they choose not to celebrate on 26 January. If you haven’t yet seen it please watch our 2018 video from Indigenous voices about why the date should be changed.

In 2017/18 we took a further step by launching a short-term campaign and Amnesty International Australia’s formal position.

We asked our supporters to take action, calling on our elected representatives to:

  • acknowledge that 26 January has a long and painful history for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and
  • start a consultation process to change the date of Australia Day so it can be celebrated by all Australians.

In 2018/19 Amnesty will continue with this action and will again encourage our supporters to attend Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander events on and around 26 January, check out our list of events from 2018. We’ll publish a list of 2019 Survival Day events early in the new year. Keep your eye out for it, and if you know of any local events that you want to share feel free to email the details to tracey.foley@amnesty.org.au.

What can you do to help? There are a number of ways you can be part of #ChangetheDate:

  • Attend local Indigenous cultural / Survival Day event/s, or if you’re in Perth head along to One Day in Freo on 27 January – these events are a great day out for you and your family
  • Volunteer at local Indigenous cultural / Survival Day event, this is a great way to meet with and build relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities
  • Where appropriate host a stall at local Indigenous cultural / Survival Day event with our #ChangetheDate petition and our current Community is Everything #RaiseTheAge petition
  • Share our online actions via social media and add our #ChangetheDate frame to your social media profile picture (available in the lead up to 26 January)
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper explaining why you support #ChangetheDate

Our country’s history goes back well beyond 26 January 1788. It began over 65,000 years ago – and we’re making it fresh every day.

Let’s stand together and respect the survival and resilience of the oldest living culture in the world and #ChangeTheDate.

Will you join our call to #ChangeTheDate?

P.S. Want to learn more about why this is important? Check out our Cultural Competency modules presented by Amnesty International Australia’s Indigenous Rights Team. These modules will equip our staff, activists and supporters with the necessary skills and considerations to best achieve success with our Indigenous Rights work.

P.S.S If you need some guidance on how to handle objections or difficult conversations about the issue, see our Q&A.

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