Australia Day is a chance to celebrate for many families across the country, but for many more, it’s become a day of controversy.
Thousands of people filled major city streets on Friday in protest, waving huge signs in the air against Invasion Day, or Survival Day, being held on the current date. Some even called for it to be abolished completely.
According to The Guardian, around 60,000 supporters marched from Parliament House in Melbourne, calling for the date to be changed from January 26. They were joined by smaller marches in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and Darwin.
The Invasion Day march saw dozens of police officers join up to monitor the huge crowds, with people waving flags from nearby.
Melbourne’s city centre was almost completely shut down as protesters shouted “always was, always will be, Aboriginal land”. Leading Indigenous activist Gary Foley told the site it was a huge statement that the Government will struggle to ignore.
“I haven’t seen a crowd like this since the 1970s,” he added. “If we keep mobilising these sort of numbers, governments cannot ignore us.”
Elsewhere, record numbers joined forces in Brisbane, marching from Queensland Parliament house to Musgrave Park. Australian poet Lionel Fogarty told ABC News: “The feeling today is to unite together and understand that this is not the true date for the Australian people. It’s a convicts day for them but for us it’s a resistance day.”
Elsewhere, a crowd marched through Hobart chanting “Australia Day is not OK, we won’t celebrate Invasion Day”, the site reports, while thousands more in Sydney and Canberra called for a treaty between Aboriginal people and the Government.
Now, former deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese is calling for “referendums on the republic and indigenous constitutional recognition” to be held on a January 26, the Australian reports.
Speaking at a citizenship ceremony in Sydney’s Grayndler, he suggested Australia Day could remain the same, but called for two ballots on the main issues confronting the national identity of indigenous people.
Albanese wants a referendum recognising the first Australians in the Constitution, with a second question on a republic to debate the nation’s future.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insisted the majority of Australians celebrated on Friday, on a day that was “a story of enormous achievement”. However, he said the day should also recognise indigenous Australians more.
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