Politics

We Need To Recognise January 26 As A Day Of Mourning

I’ve called on all councils, governments and organisations around this country to lower the Aboriginal flag to half mast, to recognise this Day of Mourning -- as we do ANZAC Day.

day of mourning invasion day

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There’s always a lot of talk around this time of year about how ‘Australia Day’ should be recognised.

It’s a day that too many Australians think we should celebrate,  but for the First Nations people of this country, January 26 is a day that celebrates our ongoing dispossession, and our oppression.

To celebrate a day like this would be dancing on the graves of our ancestors.

Since the First Fleet landed ashore at Kamay (Botany Bay) on 26 January 1788, our people have experienced brutal frontier violence and massacres, the forced removal of children from their families, indentured slave labour, and violent attempts to wipe out our languages and cultures.

In Victoria alone, there were 67 massacres and more are still being uncovered. They tried to wipe my people from these lands.

But they failed. We are still here.

It’s been almost two hundred and fifty years since the invasion, which is the fundamental injustice on which this country is based. We haven’t had justice or peace, but our people are patient. We are the oldest living culture in the world and our fight for survival is part of this nation’s story. We’re not going to give up until this country reckons with its history, so we can heal and move forward as one country.

For some, it’s about changing the date, changing the anthem, or even a moment’s silence. These changes are a step in the right direction, but why stop there? We need to change the nation.

So I ask you —  join us on Invasion Day. Be an ally

For the last two years I’ve led a dawn service on January 26 to mark a day of mourning, and honour all the Aboriginal men, women and children massacred upon invasion of our country.

The vast majority of people standing with us have been non-Indigenous Australians, sharing our grief in a spirit of healing. These numbers grow each year.

I’ve called on all councils, governments and organisations around this country to lower the Aboriginal flag to half mast, to recognise this Day of Mourning — as we do ANZAC Day.

Often I’m told that the realities of this country’s history are “divisive”. It’s “uncomfortable”. And yes — it is. And it should be. The truth is that White Australia has a black history.

But when we come together, to grieve and to mourn, we also come together to heal.

We can’t do this alone — we need our allies. But we don’t need saviours — we need solidarity.

So here’s a few ways that you can be a good ally on this Day of Mourning.

Come along to the (COVID Safe) Invasion Day rallies and dawn services being held across this country on January 26.

Listen to First Nations people, and amplify their voices when you’re sharing stuff online.

Have a conversation with your friends, family, classmates or colleagues about what you’ve learnt about Australia’s history. Sharing truth is powerful.

Find out who the Traditional Owners and Elders are of the land you live on. Read up on the massacres and the injustices that have taken place on these lands. Acknowledge our grief, our trauma, and our pain.

If we recognise the truth of our history, we can heal this country and move forward together.

I hope you’ll join us.

Here’s a list of your local Invasion Day rallies and Days Of Mourning.


Lidia Thorpe is a Senator for Victoria, a proud Gunnai Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung woman, lifelong activist and fighter for human rights, social justice and the environment.