Australia Day: Invasion Day rallies held across nation
ABC News, January 26, 2016
Invasion Day rallies have been held across the nation to remember the First Fleet landing in Australia and the ensuing killings of Indigenous people.
For many Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islanders and activists, there is little to celebrate on Australia Day, which is seen as the dispossession of Indigenous land and a day of mourning over the First Fleet’s arrival at Port Jackson, Sydney, in 1788.
Thousands protested across the states and territories, with several hundred people marching from The Block in nearby Redfern up George Street to Sydney’s Town Hall.
Speeches were held outside nearby Australia Hall — the site of the first national Aboriginal civil rights gathering, in 1938.
Ken Canning from the Indigenous Social Justice Association said Australia Day is a day of mourning.
“People celebrate when it’s the beginning of the killing of our people, the loss of language, devastation, disease,” he said.
Hundreds of people also gathered at Parliament House in Melbourne to hear Aboriginal speakers talk about their ancestors and what Invasion Day meant for them.
They said there was still a long way to go until Indigenous Australians receive equal rights, and called for Australia Day to be moved to another day.
Many in the crowd held Aboriginal flags and signs calling for sovereignty.
“Always will be Aboriginal land,” one protester said.
In Brisbane, hundreds of protesters gathered outside Parliament House ahead of a march through the CBD to Musgrave Park.
One of the organisers of the Brisbane protest said the term “Australia” was a direct contradiction and denial of the hundreds of tribal countries that exist on the continent, whose sovereignty has never been ceded.
“It is about time that we started our own national discussion on what we want, whether it is treaty, treaties, independence, a seventh state or a republic,” Bogaine Spearim wrote on the Facebook page which organised the protest.
“Today is not the day to hold our heads down in shame or sadness, it’s a day to keep our heads held high. We didn’t do anything wrong on this day.”
More than 500 protesters marched outside Tasmania’s Parliament House, calling on Premier Will Hodgman to put pressure on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to change the date of the national holiday.
Hundreds wore Indigenous flags and were led by two men in traditional body paint as they marched through Hobart’s CBD, chanting “not my day”.
On Parliament’s lawn the crowd parted to allow a wreath to be laid to commemorate the Indigenous people who were killed as a result of white settlement.
Those at the rally said crowd numbers had dramatically increased in recent years, with organiser Trudy Maluga adding her family would not celebrate a day marking European colonisation.
“On the day they invaded my people’s country, it’s barbaric and it should be changed,” she said.