Walking with First Nation’s peoples on Australia (Survival) Day

Walking with First Nation’s peoples on Australia (Survival) Day

For many Uniting Church members, celebrations on 26 January are accompanied by mixed feelings. On the one hand, there is great pride in our nation, its achievements and the vibrant multicultural community we have become. There is much to be thankful for. On the other hand, we are aware that the day holds a different meaning for many of our fellow Aboriginal Australians.  We feel sorrow and regret at the violence and wrongs that First Nation’s peoples have endured and continue to experience.

How do we support First Nations people as we hold these two realities together? Two ways are to observe the Uniting Church Day of Mourning and to join in solidarity in Survival Day events near you.

Participate in the Day of Mourning

On the Sunday before Australia Day, all Uniting Church in Australia congregations are invited to hold worship services to reflect upon and lament the effect of the invasion and colonisation of this nation upon First Peoples.

A Day of Mourning was endorsed by the 15th Assembly at the request of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC). This year the Day of Mourning will be observed on Sunday, 22 January. 

In an introduction to the 2023 worship resource, UAICC Interim National Chairperson Rev Mark Kickett and Uniting Church President Rev Sharon Hollis encourage us to use the resources as part of our journey of confession, truth-telling and the seeking of justice and healing.

You can find the day of Mourning Resources here.

For those in Sydney, there are several events to consider. There will be a smoking ceremony at Barangaroo from 7.30 am-8.30 am. This will be televised on ABC. Then there is the Survival Day March following a gathering at Belmore Park (near Central Station) at 9.30am.

The Synod and Uniting invite Uniting Church members who would like to and can participate in the march to gather at the steps of Pitt Uniting Church by 9am. We will then move to the Belmore Park to join First Nations people and supporters.  Nathan Tyson, Director of first Peoples Strategy and Engagement for the Synod of NSW and the ACT, and Jon O’Brien from uniting’s Advocacy Team will meet those attending at Pitt Street Uniting Church at 9am, to then walk to Belmore Park.

The Yabun Festival, the largest one-day gathering and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in Australia, will take place at Victoria Park (Broadway) from 12.00 pm – 10.00 pm, and the Synod encourages people to attend this event.

We are conscious this year that we will see a national referendum on establishing a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution. This was one of the clear calls from the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart. That Statement also called for a fair and more truthful relationship with the people of Australia and for justice and self-determination for First Nations peoples. It ended with a gracious invitation to all of us to walk together into a better future.  May joining in these Australia/Survival Day activities this January be part of that larger walk.

For more information, please contact Jon O’Brien at joobrien@uniting.org or 0477 725 528.

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