How Allies Can Truly Show Up On January 26

By Matt Moncrieff

Matt Moncrieff is an Urban List guest editor and a highly regarded Yamatji cook hailing from Kuwinyuwardu (Carnarvon), Western Australia. An accomplished My Kitchen Rules semi-finalist, Matt's recent groundbreaking petition, aimed at introducing native ingredients into mainstream supermarkets, garnered overwhelming support with nearly 15,000 signatures.

The debate surrounding what date we celebrate our national day shows a nation divided; one side is struggling to come to terms with its dark history, and the other is seeking a path forward that is inclusive and respectful. 

The fundamental issue that lies in celebrating the day the British landed on our shores is that it marks the beginning of murder, destruction, and almost complete devastation of First Nations peoples. No matter how many snags you throw on the barbie and games of beach-cricket you play, the resulting centuries of dispossession and dislocation cannot be denied.

For mob, January 26 is not a day of celebration but a painful reminder of our dark past and continued cultural erosion. Recognising the trauma associated with this date is essential for a more inclusive and empathetic national identity going forward. 

As we mob and our allies reiterate the basics of this issue for another year, the first fact that needs to be accepted is that our history as a nation began long before January 26 1788. 

How To Show Up On January 26

A simple change that shows your resistance to the day is simply calling it “Invasion Day” instead of 'Australia Day. 

Decline invites from friends and family holding celebrations on the 26th January, like barbecues or parties and have the conversation why you don’t celebrate the date.

Attend peaceful marches, protests and rallies—these are held across the country and in all major cities. These gatherings will usually feature incredibly passionate speakers, truth-telling, ceremonies and performances. 

Express your solidarity with organisations fighting for much needed change, such as the 'First Peoples's Assembly of Victoria'.

Despite the recent setback in the Voice Referendum, the 'Treaty' aspect of 'Voice, Treaty, Truth' is gaining momentum, particularly in Victoria. 'The Assembly' has spearheaded the establishment of the country's first truth-telling commission, an independent treaty authority overseeing negotiations, a self-determination fund supporting Aboriginal Victorians, and a comprehensive treaty negotiation framework. Plus they host impactful events like the 'Treaty Day Out,' the next one is scheduled for March 2nd in Ballarat. 

Another recent trend we see is in workplaces, some workplaces allow employees to substitute the public holiday for a different day to take the day off. 

You can support indigenous businesses by heading to Supply Nation which is a directory where you will find verified Indigenous businesses to buy from. You can also scope some standouts below:

Clothing The Gaps
Take Pride Movement
Gammin Threads
Rachael Sarra
Shop Indigenous Literacy Foundation
Haus Of Dizzy
Bobbi Lockyer Print Store

Head to change.org and sign petitions fighting for change in this space, including my petition there which asks for the big supermarkets to start stocking our incredible native Bushfoods and botanicals and indigenous products. 

Watch documentaries and read books—a thought-provoking favourite book of mine is Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe which reexamines colonial accounts of Australia and highlights the evidence of pre-colonial agriculture, engineering and building construction by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Or one to have the tissues handy for is the tear-jerking documentary on SBS On Demand is Lousy Little Sixpence—it details the early years of the Stolen Generations and the struggle of Aboriginal Australians against the Aboriginal Protection Board in the 1930s. 

If you can help financially and are able to do so, donate to accredited Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations:  

Keep the support going by checking out these Indigenous-owned businesses to shop right now.

Image credit: Alessia Francischiello, Matt Moncrieff

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