why is this important?

26 January is one of the most painful days of the year for First Peoples. It marks the beginning of 230 years of dispossession, genocide and loss. Some local councils have already changed how they mark the day, and it is important for all councils to listen to the local First Peoples community when deciding what action to take. Having these continuing and respectful conversations locally will help all councils reflect on what they stand for and what date in our history best reflects those values and attributes. 

Recommended Strategies

  • Consult with local First Peoples about 26 January and consider council’s position on the day.
  • Provide alternate, culturally safe events on 26 January for First Peoples to attend.
  • Invite Traditional Owners to play a special role in any 26 January events you are organising but understand and respect their feelings if they do not wish to take part.
  • Participate in existing or create new regional networks focused on the topic, such as the Local Government 26 January Network.
  • Lower the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags to half-mast on the day.
  • Hold a minute’s silence at the start of any formal events to acknowledge the continuing injustices that colonisation has created. 
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Case Studies

The City of Ballarat and their Koorie Engagement Action Group hold a Survival Day Dawn Ceremony each year on 26 January. The day honours First Peoples and recognises that 26 January is a day of mourning. While providing a safe space for First Peoples to mark the day, the wider community also attends and has the chance to reflect and engage in conversations that spark continuing education and action. Over 1000 people attended the first Dawn Ceremony in 2020. 

Key Contacts

Local Government 26 January Network (via Reconciliation Victoria)

links & resources

26 January Position Statement | Reconciliation Victoria

26 January Guidelines and Protocols | Reconciliation Victoria

Belgrave Survival Day

Share the Spirit Festival

Annual Invasion Day March | Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance

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