While for most Australians, Australia Day is spent celebrating national pride, for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people it’s a day for reflecting on culture and the past.
On January 26, 1788, the first fleet raised the Union Jack at Sydney Cove, an act that ultimately led to Indigenous Australians losing ownership of their land.
This year both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people will mark the day – variously known as “Invasion Day” and “Survival Day” – with a city protest and a festival at Semphore.
Narungga elder Tauto Sansbury is one of the organisers planning an Invasion Day protest at Parliament House steps.
He says tomorrow is a day for Australians to reflect on past and present treatment of Indigenous Australians.
“It’s an emotional day for me, that’s one of the reasons why we do our protest on the 26th of January every year because we want to let everyone know that there’s injustice in Australia since [colonisation] right up until this present day,” he told InDaily.
“Australia needs to do a lot of recognition. Australia is a good, fair country, but when it’s not, it’s very racist, which is very concerning for us.”
The protest, to start at 11am, will feature speeches and a floral tribute in memory of Aboriginal ancestors.
Sansbury said both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people were welcome.
“It will be peaceful – just standing on the steps talking about what has happened to Aboriginal people from day one, but we’ll also try and get State Government to sit down with Aboriginal people and talk about how to fix the problems,” he said.
Across town, Tandanya will host a Survival Day event at Semaphore, a free family-friendly event showcasing local Indigenous singer/songwriters and dance performances.
Assistant producer of the event, Jacqui Clarke, said it would be a positive celebration.
“Our event is about expressing positivity in the community and trying to bridge the gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australia,” she said.
“It’s not just for our Aboriginal community, it’s for the wider community.”
Following the success of last year’s event, organisers this year are expecting more than 500 people to attend.
“It’s a pretty big event,” Clarke says.
Survival Day will kick off from 12:30pm at the Semaphore Foreshore.
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