Working Australia Day? Not Just Another Day In The Office

Working Australia Day? Not Just Another Day In The Office

We understand that solidarity and allyship can look and feel different to everyone and substituting the 'Australia Day' public holiday is but, one way to show your support, but is it enough? 

What you do on Jan 26 matters to First Nations people. 

If you've got a choice to go to work - Invasion Day is not just another day in the office. Make sure you are centring First Nations people and voices and not just going about your business as usual. 

Recognise your privilege and the fact, that Jan 26 is painful day for First Nations people and marks the beginning of the dispossession of land, violence, massacres and genocide for Community.

Julie Szego in her opinion piece 'Push to shift Australia Day public holiday doesn’t quite add up' discusses how people substituting the public holiday are gifted an alternative day off at a time most convenient to them and in-turn "manage to not only avoid January 26 with its undertow of guilt about past and present injustice but they get to bask in the warm inner glow of a choice deemed politically virtuous". 

 So, whilst at work on Invasion Day ...

 What are some ways you can help drive  systemic change and stand meaningfully in solidarity with First Nations people?

Here are some examples of what some workplaces and employers are doing:

  •  Changing their language and referring to 'Australia Day' as Jan 26 and/or Invasion Day.
  • Encouraging staff to attend a local rally or dawn service as part of their working day.
  • Staff donating their public holiday penalty rates to a First Nation's led organisation or campaign.
  • Businesses donating a percentage of their daily sales to a First Nation's led organisation or group.
  • Supporting Blak Businesses and not for profits.
  • Using their platforms to educate others about why Jan 26 is not a date to celebrate and pausing other communication.
  • Having a minute silence to mourn, pay respect and remember the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people killed in the Frontier Wars - similar to what you do on ANZAC Day to commemorate those who were murdered fighting for their Country and survival.
  • Swapping out your corporate wear and visually show your support for First Nations people by wearing your values on your tee 
  • plus so much more! Let us know what else your workplace is doing in the blog comments section below, we'd love to hear about it.
  • We love this example, of a Darwin-based charity who canned January 26 as a public holiday, instead opting to acknowledge Mabo Day on June 3 as a public holiday with their staff instead. Mabo's late wife, Bonita Mabo had called on the Federal Government to make Mabo day a public holiday many years ago, honouring the end of the Terra Nullius shame and celebrating First Nations history and culture.

"Australia Day is one of the few times of the year where we are forced to reflect on our nation's identity, and that's a tough conversation for a former penal colony with a bloody history" says Isabella Higgins (National Indigenous Affairs Reporter) in her opinion piece 'Australia Day debate is exhausting and data tells us it could last another generation'. Isabella is hopeful that "as the children of the digital age grow up, and take public office, run corporations and make decisions for our country, maybe the pendulum of this debate will start to swing" in support of First Nations people. 

Meanwhile, the collective sum of the individuals, organisations and businesses choosing not to observe the public holiday and instead changing the date ourselves continues to raise awareness. 

So, what is the date we can have a public holiday to celebrate Australia? This is the question we get asked all time and there are some so many alternative dates for a national holiday - read here

It's a difficult debate and there is a huge variety of Mob views and shifting or even abolishing the day could be seen imperfect gesture but, what is for certain is that the 26 January is about as unsuitable a day as possible to celebrate Australia.

Read more about different Jan 26 perspectives in our blog:  Where are you at? Change The Date, Abolish The Date, Rename and Reframe the Date.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.