Thousands of people have hit the streets of Melbourne to protest against the national celebration of Australia Day.
Known to Aboriginal people as “Invasion Day”, January 26 signifies the day on which Australia was officially colonised in 1788, and has been a national day of celebration and a public holiday since 1994.
To many Aboriginal people, however, the day signifies the beginning of genocide, and the systemic oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Organised by the activist group Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR), the protest aimed to continue the conversation around ongoing issues affecting Indigenous communities, including the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, high rates of incarceration and deaths in custody.
“It is the epitome of colonialism to celebrate the invasion of Aboriginal people. So we call it, ‘Invasion Day’,” said WAR organiser Meriki Onus.
“I really link the celebration to the violent attempt of extermination of my people. It’s an awful thing to celebrate dispossession and genocide for anybody.”
There have been calls for the date of celebration of Australia’s national day to be changed.
Threats from far-right groups to disrupt the protest saw a large police presence, yet despite the large numbers of people in attendance there were few disturbances reported.
Similar protests were also held in cities and towns across Australia.