For the fifth year running, thousands are expected to gather on January 26 at the Day of Mourning Dawn Service in Melbourne, and at similar morning vigils around the nation, which have become a fixture of the date.
Each year, mourners come together at first light on the 26th to remember First Peoples who have died since invasion, commemorate the warriors of the Frontier Wars, and honour the survival of the oldest living culture on the planet.
The vigils have been growing in popularity since 2019, when Senator Lidia Thorpe organised a Dawn Service at Kings Domain to honour the legacy of Elders and activists who first called for a Day of Mourning on January 26 in 1938.
In that year, Yorta Yorta man William Cooper, along with Jack Patten, William Ferguson, and other community leaders, brought First Peoples together for a silent march from Town Hall to Australian Hall in Sydney.
85 years later, a growing number of people are choosing to come together on January 26 at Indigenous-led events, to reflect and stand in solidarity with First Peoples, rather than celebrate.
Senator Lidia Thorpe will attend The 2024 Day of Mourning Dawn Service in Melbourne, organised by Victorian NAIDOC and led by Wurundjeri Community and the Djirri Djirri Dance Group.
The vigil will be held at the King's Domain Resting Place located in Kings Domain on Linlithgow Avenue from 5:00am-7am AEDT. Limited seating for Elders will be available. This event is open for all to attend and is organised in solidarity with the Invasion Day Rally and Pay The Rent.
Quotes attributable to Senator Lidia Thorpe:
“The significance of January 26 is changing for this nation.”
“To me, it’s heartening to see that millions of people around this country, not just First Peoples, now recognise January 26 as a Day of Mourning, commemoration and reflection, knowing it’s not a day to celebrate.”
“This is Truth-telling in action, and if you’ve ever been to a First Nations event on January 26, you would have seen the healing power it can have, and the way it can unite us.”
“This year on January 26, I am inviting those who’d like to show their solidarity with First Peoples to join us in quiet reflection and commemoration at one of the many Dawn Services around the country.”
Quotes attributable to Stacie Piper, Wurundjeri Woman, Djirri Djirri Dancer and Former Vic NAIDOC Chair:
“Invasion Day is a day we have reclaimed – we gather at Dawn to honour our fallen Ancestors, to honour those who have been fighting for justice since the beginning till now.
“We continue to amplify the voices of our Ancestors and Elders who called for a Day of Mourning, and we come together to reflect during Ceremony, providing a space to heal together.”
Quotes attributable to Marcia Galea, Gunditjmara Woman, current VIC NAIDOC Chair
“This year's NAIDOC theme “Keep the Fire Burning, Blak, Loud and Proud” calls for a reclamation of narratives, an amplification of voices, and an unwavering commitment to justice and equality.”
“We acknowledge the 38-plus Nations around the State of Victoria, and pay our respect to their Ancestors, their fallen, their Elders and Community, our hearts are with all who mourn this day.”