Invasion Day

The Prime Minister's pitiful one word change to the national anthem is a meaningless symbolic change that aims to bolster nationalism, argue Marianne Mackay and Alex Bainbridge.

Find out what Invasion Day protests and events are happening across Australia on January 26 and how you can participate.

Zebedee Parkes reports that big numbers joined Invasion Day protests across Australia on January 26, making them the largest in recent years.

A list of Invasion Day protests and events happening across Australia on January 26.

Several hundred people from the Yuin nation and their supporters gathered next to the fishing trawler wharf for Survival Day on January 26 and listened to poetry, rock bands and several solo musicians including a didgeridoo player.

Organiser Rodney Kelly told Green Left Weekly he wanted to bring the NSW South Coast Aboriginal and the wider community together to promote the South Coast Aboriginal community, its history and what it means to be Aboriginal in the region.

Celebrating January 26 is a state-sanctioned exercise that rubs salt into the wounds of Indigenous Australia. It proclaims, “You lost, we won. Know your place.”

But the desire for an honest conversation about modern Australia's origins in the violent and ongoing dispossession of Indigenous people is not going away.

Across the country Invasion Day marches were both bigger than ever, and took place in many more places. More local governments have dropped their January 26 activities and finally the ABC allowed Triple J to shift its Hottest 100.

If you want to celebrate January 26 by all means do: just be clear that you are celebrating those with so much wealth power that they will never need, nor want to, invite you to feast with them.

The New Year is in full swing, and if there is one thing I am really looking forward to in 2018, it is the long overdue introduction of “rank socialism” in this nation.

This appears to be on the agenda to go by the dark warnings offered up last year by former prime minister, jogger and war-criminal-at-large John Howard on the matter of a royal commission into the banking sector.

On January 24, Victorian Liberal opposition leader Matthew Guy said “unpatriotic councils” that do not use January 26 to celebrate would be sacked. He was specifically threatening the Moreland, Darebin and Yarra councils, which have shifted celebrations and citizenship ceremonies away from January 26.

The enormous — some estimate 60,000-strong — Invasion Day rally in Melbourne was a fitting rejoinder to the conservative campaign pushed by the mainstream media and politicians in the lead-up to January 26.

The right-wing Institute of Public Affairs released a poll on January 24 that, unsurprisingly, found just 11% of those surveyed want the date changed.

In an event organised by Fighting In Resistance Equally (FIRE) on January 26, more than 10,000 people gathered at The Block in Redfern to pay their respects to Australia’s first nations and show support for Indigenous rights.

Ken Canning, chairman of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, kicked off the event by saying: “It’s really great to see all of these faces here. We want this to be a healing day and we need this to be a peaceful event.” He added: “We are peaceful people despite what the media says.”

Representatives at the annual meeting of the Australian Local Government Association voted on June 20 to back a motion by Hobart city council to push for the federal government to change the date of Australia Day.

Hobart city council voted in April to sponsor changing Australia Day from January 26, a date many Indigenous people regard as Invasion Day.

This year, the City of Fremantle moved some Australia Day events to January 28, after local Aboriginal elders said January 26 was not a day to celebrate.

“This brings pride to our people. This is a turning of the tide!”, First Nation’s activist Ken Canning told the thousands on the streets for the Invasion Day march from Redfern to Chippendale on January 26. 

Indeed, it was. 

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) and The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association (NATSIPA) support renaming January 26 as “Invasion Day”. The two organisations decided this on January 15.

They are encouraging a rethink of the meaning of "Australia day" on January 26 to support justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. They are also urging people to attend one of the many nationwide protests on January 26 (see below).

When Fremantle councillors voted in August last year to end the Australia Day fireworks display that it had been running for the past eight years, I fully expected a conservative backlash. But even I was surprised to see the decision featured in news bulletins for months on end.

On one level the whole thing is bizarre. Local governments are not obliged to do anything special on January 26 and most of them don't.

What drove the conservative media and Coalition politicians into a frenzy was the council's reason for doing dropping the fireworks display.

As Invasion Day approaches, Murri leader Sam Watson told Green Left Weekly that January 26 was “only a date when a motley collection of boats made landfall on Gadigal country to establish the colony of NSW”.

“It is important to mobilise and march [on Invasion Day] to remind everyone that an illegal invasion took place on this soil," he said..

“They came here to launch a war of genocide against the 500 sovereign nations of this land.

“They came to invade as a fully-armed military force. They massacred and slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent people.

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