Growing crowds attend indigenous Invasion Day rallies as Australia celebrates national day
Sydney - Middle East Times Int’l: Thousands of people attended Invasion Day rallies nationwide on Australia Day (Thursday, January 26) as First Nations speakers called for action on deaths in custody, an end to the removal of Aboriginal children and argued against an Indigenous voice to parliament being enacted before a treaty.
The referendum on a constitutional First Nations advisory body, as first proposed in the Uluru statement from the heart, is due to be held this year; it was a prominent topic at Thursday’s events, which are held each year to mourn and protest Indigenous dispossession on what is officially Australia’s national day.
Sydney’s Invasion Day rally and march were dominated by speeches on the Voice with attendees saying the strong opposition voiced by organisers was shaping how they will be voting.
Speakers also pointed to the potential body’s inability to veto government decisions, saying it was another way their communities would be ignored.
But in Alice Springs, elders and community leaders urged the community to come together during a challenging time for many in the town.
Arrernte woman Sabella Kngwaraye Turner welcomed a crowd and spoke about the pain and suffering brought by colonisation and dispossession.
Speaking in Arrernte language, she said the future should not be about “division”; instead, “it’s about us coming together” and healing.
Alice Springs has become a flashpoint in recent weeks, with renewed alcohol restrictions and a surge in antisocial behaviour and crime, including young people, Central Arrernte and Mudburra elder Pat Ansell Dodds said that this was a result of the NT intervention, and pushed for children to learn their culture
In Canberra, several speakers declared strong opposition to the voice, with one referring to it as “crumbs”.
Hundreds of people gathered in Canberra’s city centre for speeches before marching through the capital’s main thoroughfare to the Aboriginal tent embassy at Old Parliament House.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, responding to critics of the voice, has stressed it would be a consultative body and would not have decision-making power.
Many participants noted changing public attitudes to the day and the size of crowds at the rallies.
In Adelaide, the crowd gathered in Tarntanyangga/Victoria Square then marched through the main street and back to the square, chanting.
Adults carried placards protesting genocide and incarceration, while kids waved Aboriginal flags and dogs trotted here and there, led by the Black Death motorcycle club.
AROUND THE STATES
NSW: Amar Singh, founder of Turbans4Australia, was named the 2023 Australia’s Local Hero at a ceremony in Canberra.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet congratulated Mr Singh, saying he had made his state immensely proud.
“Amar embodies strong and meaningful values in his work for Turbans4Australia and has dedicated thousands of hours towards helping others right across NSW. He leads a team of volunteers across Australia, working tirelessly to help hundreds of thousands of Australians in need.
Mr Singh, who lives in Sydney’s south-west, emigrated with his family to Australia as a teenager and founded Turbans4Australia in 2015.
Every week, Turbans4Australia delivers up to 450 food and grocery hampers to people experiencing food insecurity in Western Sydney - and they champion multiculturalism and religious tolerance, which are bedrocks of community peace and harmony.
“Turbans4Australia has delivered hay to farmers in drought. They’ve been a lifeline to flood victims in Lismore and communities devastated by bushfire on the South Coast. And they’ve helped isolated and vulnerable members of the community get through COVID-19 lockdowns,” Mr Perrottet said.
Eighteen NSW emergency services personnel were recognised in the Australia Day Honours List with the Australian Fire Service Medal awarded to 12 volunteers and staff of Fire and Rescue NSW and the NSW Rural Fire Service.
The Emergency Services Medal was awarded to six volunteers and staff of the NSW State Emergency Service, Surf Life Saving NSW and the Volunteer Rescue Association.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of South Australia invited the public to its Australia Day celebrations at Noor Mosque, Adelaide.
Activities included a flag-raising ceremony, the singing of the national anthem and a complimentary lunch. Among those who attended were state and federal members of parliament and other community members.
The new Imam of the community in Adelaide, Imam Kamran Tahir said: “Australia Day has a special significance for Ahmadi Muslims in Australia. This is a day when we can thank Australia for its many freedoms that it has provided us including the freedom of religion.