January 26 is currently observed as ‘Australia Day’, in memory of the day the First Fleet sailed into Port Jackson (now Sydney) in 1788. It’s a distressing day for some people, as it also marks the loss of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land and culture.
It’s likely that you’ve seen some media coverage surrounding the day. Every year, the conversation around changing the date grows, and many public figures have spoken out about it. A lot of people are saying that we should still celebrate Australia Day, but on a less hurtful and controversial date.
Here are some ways you can get up to speed on the issue and mark the day.
Learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history
Check out this timeline of events from 16,000 BCE to 2017. You can also review some of the developments around the day on an Aboriginal history timeline here. Just use the search bar and get educated.
Each community around Australia also has a rich history. Check out your local library or council to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history in your area.
Attend or volunteer at an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander festival
We’ve found a great guide to what’s going on across Australia – from festivals celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, to protest marches and open discussion forums. Use the day to celebrate and recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in Australia.
This year, the Yabun Festival will be an online event. Last year, ReachOut spoke with people at the festival about their cultural pride and strengths.
Start a conversation with a friend on the topic
Chatting to a friend can be really helpful if you’re feeling stressed or confused about January 26. Share what’s going on for you and ask them what being Australian means to them. If you’re a bit nervous about having a yarn, check out our 3 steps to better communication.
Prefer chatting online? Check out the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Gathering Place on our forums or join the Let's talk about January 26 discussion.
Take time to connect with friends and family
Many of your family and friends may be feeling distressed about January 26, so it’s a good chance to support each other. It could be a great opportunity to connect with your elders and to hear their thoughts on the day.
Connect to culture
With the long weekend, it’s a great opportunity to connect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Here are a few ideas:
- Watch one of the many kickarse Indigenous TV shows or movies on offer, such as Black Comedy, Samson and Delilah, Radiance and Jasper Jones. All of these and more are showing on NITV this week. Check out the program guide and prepare the popcorn.
- Explore your creative side if an art gallery near you is having an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander exhibition. Large libraries often have exhibitions, too.
- Many bush and coastal walks have a rich Aboriginal history, so you can get out in nature and connect with culture at the same time. Check out your state’s national park website for info before heading out.
Switch off from social media
If the debate is getting too much, it’s totally okay just to switch off. Pressing pause on social media can be great for the soul, and it’s fine not to contribute to discussions if it doesn’t feel right. Once you’re off social, maybe think about some of the tips above – some time spent with family and friends, or a day to yourself, might be just what you feel like.
Expect different opinions
It's likely that people you know, or even your family or friends, will have different opinions to you about January 26. Although they may be different, it's important you respect each other's opinions.
If they keep pushing you to justify the way you feel or aren't being respectful, try to remove yourself from the conversation. You could say, 'It sounds like we have different opinions about this, we might have to agree to disagree'.