Dramatic scenes have erupted at Invasion Day rallies across the country, with Greens senator and Indigenous rights campaigner Lidia Thorpe declaring ‘this is war’ to a packed crowd.
Protesters took to the streets in marches organised in every state and territory on Thursday as many are choosing not to mark the national holiday and are protesting January 26 as Australia’s national day of celebration.
In Melbourne, Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe addressed cheering crowds at the Victorian Parliament around midday under scorching heat.
Ms Thorpe, who is an Indigenous woman and the star of Melbourne’s treaty movement, declared war, in her latest example of overheated rhetoric.
‘(It was) a war that was declared on our people more than 200 years ago,’ Senator Thorpe said in an extraordinary speech, in which she said black women were still being raped by ‘them’.
Lidia Thorpe brandished a ‘battle stick’ as she addressed a crowd on the steps of the Victorian Parliament
Lidia Thorpe (pictured) with protesters on the steps of the Victorian Parliament
‘This is a war. They are still killing us. They are still killing our babies. What do we have to celebrate in our country?’ Ms Thorpe said.
The crowd responded to Ms Thorpe’s comments with loud shouts of ‘shame’ as she addressed the massive crowd.
The Greens Senator labelled the federal parliament a ‘poisoned chalice’ while calling on protestors to help rid the country of racism.
Ms Thorpe said First Nations people ‘deserve better than an advisory body’ and told protesters to call for a treaty with Indigenous people instead of a voice.
‘From the federal parliament – the poisoned chalice that it is — right through the everyday streets that we walk down, we have to rid racism and heal this country, bring everyone together through a sovereign treaty.
‘They want to put the colonial constitution on top of the oldest constitution on the planet … we are sovereign and this is our land. And we deserve better than an advisory body.
‘We have an opportunity to have a treaty … that could put 10 independent Blak seats in the parliament today. We want real power and we won’t settle for anything less.’
Protesters in Melbourne put red paint on their hands to show the country has ‘blood on their hands (pictured)
A large crowd of protestors assembled outside Victoria’s State Parliament on Bourke Street in the city’s CBD for the annual Invasion Day celebration (pictured)
The rally in Sydney was countered by pro-Australia Day demonstrators – wielding ‘I Support Australia Day’ signs – who were quickly moved on from Invasion Day protesters.
Police also intervened and asked the group to disperse and said they would be issued with a direction, if they didn’t obey the request.
Speakers in Sydney made calls for Indigenous sovereignty and criticised the referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Activist and Dunghutti, Gumbaynggirr, Bundjalung woman, Auntie Lizzie Jarrett told attendees to vote no.
‘Liberal, Labor, the system is not for Black People,’ she said as the crowd cheered in response.
‘We don’t want a voice, we have a voice. We don’t want a white wash.
‘When it comes to the time. Vote ‘no’ to the referendum. Don’t come here and tick a box.’
A protestor carries a placard showing the Aboriginal flag during an Invasion Day rally in Sydney
Protestors marching from Belmore Park to the Yabun Festival at Victoria Park, Camperdown (pictured)
Counter protesters in support of Australia Day stood across the road from the Invasion Day rally holding the Australian flag and placards (pictured)
Police swiftly moved the counter protesters along (pictured)
Ms Jarrett later asked the protesters how they would vote in the upcoming referendum, to which they responded ‘no’ and ‘f**k off’.
She told the NSW Police officers gathered at the rally, that they did not need their protection.
The activist called Australia Day ‘dead’ and likened it to the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
‘We protect each other. This is sovereignty day, Australia Day is dead,’ Ms Jarrett said.
‘Just like queen Lizzie, Australia Day is dead with her. Will you support us? If you do, when that referendum comes around, kick it to the ground like Australia.’
Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi is present at the march and posted images of the smoking ceremony to Twitter.
‘Today I am joining First Nations people to mark 26 January as Invasion Day, as I have for many years. It is a Day of Mourning,’ Ms Faruqi wrote.
‘We are calling for First Nations justice and we are calling for Treaty in this country.’
Greens candidate for the NSW upper house and Wiradjuri woman Linda June Coe labelled the Indigenous Voice to Parliament a ‘fallacy’.
Crowds gather at Belmore Park in Sydney’s CBD for the annual Invasion Day protests
January 26 is celebrated as Australia Day, marking the arrival of the First Fleet into Australia, marking the colonisation of the country’s Aboriginal people
Ms Coe told the crowd at Belmore Park the Invasion Day rally was a day of reckoning for White Australia.
‘White Australia, this is the reckoning – 235 years and we ain’t going nowhere,’ she said
‘They tried to wipe us out, still here. They tried to breed us out, still here. They tried to commit genocide on us, still here!
‘Brisbane, Melbourne, we are all mobilising against the fallacy that is constitutional recognition. My people, this is the voice.’
Indigenous anti-mining activist Adrian Burragubba called the government’s voice plan patronising and a form of assimilation.
‘This is like a paternalistic attitude, all the time, of telling us, ‘We know what’s best for you people and we will tell you what’s right’,’ he said.
‘We don’t want to be assimilated into a constitution written by white people.’
The theme for Sydney’s rally is ‘sovereignty before voice’ in response to the Federal Government’s Voice to Parliament proposal
The rally opened with a smoking ceremony, followed by traditional dances (pictured) and an acknowledgement of country made by Uncle Dave Bell
Hundreds of people braced temperatures of 27C wearing clothes bearing the Aboriginal flag.
Signs read ‘we deserve better than just a voice’ and ‘vote no to referendum’.
The sails of the Sydney Opera House were lit up with Indigenous artwork by proud Kamilaroi woman and artist, Rhonda Sampson, to celebrate First Nations women around the water of Sydney Harbour.
Prior to the protest, hundreds gathered at Barangaroo for the WugulOra morning ceremony to honour First Nations people and reflect on what the day means for them.
An ancient Smoking Ceremony was held to ‘cleanse the way for new beginnings’ and to celebrate the world’s oldest living culture through dance, music and language.
Attendees witnessed special performances by Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander dancers and singers such as the Koomurri Aboriginal Dance Troupe.
A march also kicked off in Canberra at Garema Place, with hundreds of people gathering in the sun at 9.30am.
Protesters took to the streets in every state and territory rallying against January 26 as Australia’s national holiday (pictured, young boy at Invasion Day rally in Brisbane)
A young woman and child attend an Invasion Day rally in Brisbane
A sign hung in the park reads ‘Self-determination not incarceration’.
Meanwhile, there was no Australia Day parade throughout the city for the third year running, while thousands of people flocked to the streets to stand in solidarity with First Nations people.
The large crowd assembled outside Victoria’s State Parliament on Bourke Street in the city’s CBD for the annual Invasion Day celebration.
The crowd, which numbered in the thousands, burst into cheers when a speaker declared ‘f**k Australia Day.’
Uncle Gary Foley was the rally’s first speaker, slammed The Voice to parliament proposal labelling it ‘lipstick on a pig.’
Protestors were also seen with red paint on their hands to symbolise Australia has ‘blood on their hands.’
Protesters screamn while marching from Parliament House to Flinder’s Street Station during the Treaty Before Voice Invasion Day Protest
Protesters lie on tram tracks during Invasion Day rally in Melbourne
In Cairns, protesters started marching from Fogarty Park at 9am and walked through the city with a sign that read ‘Abolish Australia day’.
The crowd could be heard chanting: ‘What do we want? Treaty. When do we want it? Now’.
The Invasion Day rally in Brisbane started at Queens Garden at 10am and has amassed a crowd of more than 10,000 supporters.
Roads throughout the city’s CBD were closed as the protestors marched from the gardens to Musgrave Park.
The crowd remained silent as rally organisers asked if they should support The Voice to Parliament referendum.
‘Is there anyone here who thinks we need a Voice? No one?’ he asked.
‘We want our land back. We want an end to deaths in custody. We want an end to intergenerational trauma.
‘We have a voice, those bastards in Parliament haven’t been listening. What we want is justice, what we want is self determination and sovereignty.
‘If they think some government-appointed advisory council is going to say it better than that, they have no idea.’
People dance while on a march during an Invasion Day rally in Brisbane
A young person attends an Invasion Day rally in Brisbane
Thousands of people gathered at Queens Gardens for the Invasion Day event on Thursday.
The massive crowd, expected to be more than 10,000 supporters, walked from the gardens to Musgrave Park, with roads being shut down throughout the Brisbane CBD.
Hundreds of people gathered on the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra after marching from the city centre of the nation’s capital in a January 26 ‘Sovereignty Day’ protest.
The massive crowd clapped and cheered as they arrived on the lawn outside Old Parliament House – 51 years to the day since the tent embassy was established as a permanent protest site.
Protesters walked the 3km from Civic and were heard chanting: ‘Too many coppers, not enough Justice’, ‘no justice no peace, no racist police’ and ‘always was, always will be Aboriginal land’.
Tia Harvey (left) shouts during an Invasion Day rally in Brisbane
Protesters cry during in the Treaty Before Voice Invasion Day Protest in Melbourne
Protestors chanted together as they walked the 3km from Civic: ‘Too many coppers, not enough justice; No justice, no peace, no racist police; Always was, always will be Aboriginal land’.
Signs protesting against the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament were visible at the front of the crowd before it dispersed at the embassy.
A small group of people stood on the lawn behind a large placard reading: ‘F**k your Voice, it is not ours’.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese spoke at a flag-raising and citizenship ceremony in Canberra and honoured the nation’s Indigenous people.
‘Let us all recognise the unique privilege that we have to share this continent with the world’s oldest continuous culture,’ Albanese said.
Mr Albanese said the government had no plans on changing the national holiday date despite January 26 being a ‘difficult day’ for Indigenous Australians.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured) said there were no plans to change Australia’s national holiday a different date despite it being a ‘difficult’ day for Indigenous Australians
Crowds gathered at Elizabeth Street in Hobart’s CBD from 10.50am where they marched towards Parliament Lawns for an Invasion Day rally at midday.
Hundreds of people can be seen walking through the city’s streets, holding Aboriginal flags and signs.
‘Australia Day = Invasion day,’ one sign in the crowd said.
‘Invasion, murder, rape, dispossession, deaths in custody, attempted genocide. Celebrate…you’re joking,’ another said.
Non-Indigenous Australians have been celebrating what is known as ‘Australia Day’ for 29 years.
The day is a historic one which holds deep, cultural significance to Indigenous Australians and is a chance to advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody.
Local Indigenous Ngunnawal residents, Tahlen and his grandmother from Yass in NSW celebrate at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy
Protesters march past Old Parliament House to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy at part of an ‘invasion day’ rally in Canberra