Things to do instead of celebrating genocide

Things to do instead of celebrating genocide

We know that January 26 is not a date to celebrate.

It is a day of survival for First Nations people, and for many, a placeholder that highlights the ongoing colonial violence that continues to manifest throughout this country. The debate that arises around Jan 26 underlines the lack of ignorance and empathy present in Australia. For a closer look at this click here for ‘8 things you need to know about Jan 26’.

In some settler space, what we often see on this day are die-hard patriots bellowing their ‘Aussie pride’ and many who choose to ignore the uncomfortable truths of the public holiday, using the day as an opportunity to picnic in the park. Sometimes this is paired with remiss and an attempted display of innocence that “we aren’t actually celebrating Australia Day, we are just catching up.” But in a country that continues to systemically oppress First Nations people, complacency is dangerous.

Yorta Yorta, Ngurai Illum Wurring, Dja Dja Wurring and Wiradjuri musician Neil Morris (DRMNGNOW) put it perfectly – “At some point, it’s about personal responsibility of people to relinquish their ignorance and choose to grow. Everyone has that choice - to be better.”

Everyone has a role to play and a choice to be better, and neutrality is complacency. 

Rather than being complacent and avoiding responsibility disguised as neutrality, let’s collectively channel our energy the right way to make small differences. We asked our audience, mob and allies alike, what you will be doing this January 26 instead of celebrating genocide. 

This is what you told us: 

  • Use January 26 day as an opportunity to learn more about First Nations people and histories, and educate your friends and family on the ongoing impacts of colonisation
  • Spend the day taking care of Country. One idea is to grab a bag and spend a few hours collecting rubbish, while taking the time to learn more about the Country you are on.
  • Show up. Attend a protest, rally, or dawn service in your area (if it’s COVID safe).
  • Ignore the public holiday and go to work. Many of our supporters have told us that their workplaces don’t recognise the public holiday, providing their staff with the option to work instead and take an alternate day. 
  • If you have a disposable income, consider spending your days wage with First Nations owned brands and artists, or direct your penalty rates to Paying the Rent. 
  • Listen to music performed and curated by First Nations artists like Barkaa, Ancestress, Nooky and Miiesha, and while you are at it check out this Spotify playlist curated by Meanjin based Yuggera DJ Dameeela, who joins the world’s leading DJ’s with her own track ID’s on Spotify.
  • Spend the day watching movies and series featuring and produced by First Nations people.
  • And for mob – practice self-care, celebrate survival and stay out of the comments section.

This list is not exhaustive, and there is so much more work to be done.

Got more ideas? We’d love to hear them! Add them in the comments below and check out this thread on Instagram. 



  • John Higgins

    To our understanding young men and women Walk tall and don’t give up on what’s right stay true stay solid.

  • Pauline Stanton

    We played the beautiful music of Gurummul.

  • Karen Graham

    Today we went to the native nursery purchased some nice native plants come home done some gardening. We also went for a swim at the beach and watched NITV through out the day.

  • Deb

    Supporting Indigenous owned businesses.

  • Briohny

    I choose to not celebrate a day that caused so much pain and decades of trauma for our First Nations people . We need to make a day to celebrate our First Nations people that incorporates taking responsibility for our white past but heals and brings together . The current Australian does not do that for me . We have a wealth of knowledge we can learn from this ancient beautiful culture that is so giving and selfless … I want to celebrate and try and heal somehow

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