'I'm an Aboriginal Elder. Here are 8 ways you can support Indigenous Australians on January 26.'

As the debate around Australia's national day continues, there are ways every Australian can be an ally to the Indigenous community - both on January 26 and beyond.

For many Australians, January 26 can't be seen as anything other than a day of mourning. 

To introduce myself, I'm an Aboriginal Elder, author and barrister. I am also the co-director of Evolve Communities, alongside reconciliation and allyship expert Carla Rogers. We're looking to continue to change attitudes, and for that we need everyone's support.

Watch: Changing the date, with Narelda Jacobs. Post continues below. 

Video via Mamamia. 

Evolve Communities is Australia's trusted authority for Indigenous cultural awareness and ally training. For years, we have together been working towards making this country a more inclusive place through allyship and education. The end goal? To make Australia a more inclusive, kinder place.

Part of this is talking about January 26. To some, they call it 'Australia Day'. For First Nations people like myself, it's Invasion Day.

8 ways you can support Indigenous Australians on January 26.

Australia is the only nation on the planet that celebrates its national day on the date colonisation began. What this does is alienate a whole section of our population - both Indigenous people, but also allies. 

I'm not saying we shouldn't celebrate 'Australia Day' - I think we should. But we need to change the date to one that's more appropriate. One that acknowledges the wonderful nation that we can become together.


This is a safe space, away from shame and blame. It's about what we can do together to move forward.

1. Get to know the history of January 26, but also Indigenous history in general.

On January 26, 1788, the commander of the First Fleet ships from Great Britain raised the Union Jack in Sydney Cove to signal the beginning of the colonisation of Australia. As well as signalling the beginning of dispossession for a culture that had thrived for 80,000 years, the invasion also resulted in the deaths of thousands of First Nations people.

From the 1940s onwards 'Australia Day' was considered a nationwide holiday on January 26. It wasn't until 1994 though that January 26 was formally declared a national public holiday by all states and territories, the Federal Government creating the federally funded National Australia Day Council. 

The largest protest over January 26 was held in 1988. Over 40,000 people marched through Sydney calling for land rights for First Nations people and highlighting the complete erasure of their voices and history during the celebrations.

2. Get to know the Indigenous land you are living on.

Do you know any Indigenous names for Australia? Most people are unaware that our people have names for Australia and its regions. 

I always encourage people to learn a few words and phrases in various Indigenous languages, as well as getting to know the name of the land you are living on. You're then helping us keep our culture and language alive.

I also always encourage people to connect to Country where they can. Take your shoes off, connect to the land, contemplate quietly and pay respect to the spirits. You could do an Acknowledgement of Country as well.


3. Aim to have thoughtful conversations.

Truth-telling is a hard yarn, and our approach is hoping these conversations eventually become easier. But for genuine, thoughtful conversations about January 26, there's a three-step approach we can take:

1. Reflect: Pause and identify what's at the heart of the issue. 

2. Relate: Try to imagine how the other person might be feeling. 

3. Reconcile: Work with the other person towards a solution.

4. Shop from Indigenous-owned brands. 

Lots of people will be wearing their 'Always Was Always Will Be' t-shirts on January 26, and that's great. You can see a full list of Indigenous-owned businesses to support and buy from here

5. Attend rallies or events if you can. 

You can see a full list of events in your local area or city here.


6. Watch to expand your horizons.

There's plenty of great First Nations content that you can learn more from. Some recommendations from Evolve Communities include - 

  • In My Blood, Netflix.
  • Sweet Country, Netflix and ABC iView.
  • The Tracker, Netflix.
  • The Drovers Wife, Netflix and ABC iView.
  • The Australian Dream, ABC iView.
  • ARAATIKA: RISE UP, SBS on Demand.
  • High Ground, SBS on Demand.
  • Incarceration Nation, SBS on Demand,

7. Stand up.

As co-director of Evolve Communities Carla Rogers says: "What I can do as an ally is interrupt racism. It's about making change in your sphere of influence, and sharing in that cultural load. You can report racism to the Call it Out register here."

Let's look for wonderful reasons of us sharing and working together, where diversity and inclusivity is the focus. There's lots of great resources, social posts and videos that you can share with family and friends on January 26 and beyond.

8. Listen to First Nations voices. 

Last but not least, this is a time to listen - specifically to listen to understand, not just to listen to respond.

Aboriginal people are like any other people in the world - they have a diverse range of opinions. That's why we need to promote other Indigenous voices, it's important. 

On January 26, I will be sitting quietly, reflecting on the day and thinking about my people. We're still here. We're still feeling, human beings. I will also be reimagining a future identity that we can all celebrate. 

To all the allies - thank you. As we like to say in my Bardi language 'Inyidigal Gorna' (Go Well).

For more from Aunty Munya Andrews, you can follow Evolve Communities' website here, Instagram here, and see their books here.

Feature Image: Supplied.