AUSTRALIA: Protest rallies were held in Australia as tens of thousands of people rallied in major cities across the nation in response to the surging socio-political restlessness in the country given its colonial history.
Another 2,000 people attended another similar protest in the Australian state capitals.
A large crowd gathered on “Invasion Day” in Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, carrying aboriginal flags. An indigenous smoking ceremony also took place.
Australia Day, held every year on January 26, celebrates the landing of the British first fleet of convicts at Sydney in 1788.
The settlement that ingrained colonisation in Australia led to genocidal violence that put the indigenous population in Australia at a serious disadvantage.
A Yiman and Bidjara woman, Prof. Marcia Langton, expressed the need to stop equating Australia’s National Day with the celebration that commemorates colonization. She says: “The biggest lie, of course, is Australia Day.” “I think we can find an inclusive date, and I think we can start to tell the truth about Australia’s history and show some respect for all the survivors of the frontier wars.”
Australia Day has been a national public holiday only since 1994, despite its inception in the 19th century. The public’s consciousness could be moulded to impact the consequent dispossession of the indigenous Australians.
A number of people are already delving into efforts to “change the date.” Citizenship ceremonies would be held by councils on the day.
Anthony Albanese has reported that a poll witnessed growing support for a change, with 26% of the Australians in support this year, as opposed to 20% in 2022 and 15% in 2019.
The leader of the Conservative opposition, Peter Dutton, has argued that this day could bring indigenous, British, and multicultural communities together.
“We shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed by who we are; we should be more proud of who we are,” Dutton says, adding, “We don’t need to tear down one part of our history to build up another.”
A referendum proposed in the Parliament later in the year would ensure indigenous recognition in the Parliament, but the indigenous “voice,” comprising 24 people from across the country, would not have any role in making laws.
The agenda items that would be covered subsequently are the social, spiritual, and economic wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
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