26 January, 2024

Invasion Day/ Australia Day/ Survival Day – why we need to talk about 26th January

At the Sortition Foundation, we are committed to including all voices in deliberative democratic processes, and to working with our partner organisations to create safer spaces where everyone feels included. In Australia, at this time of year, that means that we feel it is important to highlight the need to talk about the significance of 26th January.

 Photo credit: Matt Hrkac CC.0 BY 2  Invasion Day 2022 - Reflection and smoking ceremony

The date is becoming increasingly divisive, with two Woolworths stores in Queensland being graffitied and a statue of Captain Cook in Melbourne being vandalised. On days such as the 26th January, balancing the needs of the various communities in Australia, where we carry out a substantial portion of our work, is difficult. We also recognise that this day is a national day of mourning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia. The Sortition Foundation’s standard position on any difficult issue is that deliberation between groups of people broadly representing the wider society is a highly legitimate way to come up with ways forward.

We also think that Australia and Australians, of all backgrounds, will benefit from having a meaningful discussion on the politics of the 26th January, in an environment where all points of view are welcome. Having such a discussion will require putting aside polemic positions and finding the common ground on complex issues, which we have seen happen whenever people are given the opportunity to talk to others from different backgrounds. Given the space, the time and a well-curated discussion space, ‘ordinary’ Australians would be able to chart an inclusive way forward for all.


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