On January 26 two separate marches were organised on the streets of Melbourne. One was the official Australia Day parade planned by the Victorian state government. The other was the annual Invasion Day demonstration, this year organised by young Aboriginal activists from Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR).
The Invasion Day demonstration was much larger than previous years with more than 1,000 people – Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal – participating in the event. After hearing from a few speakers outside Parliament House, the Invasion Day demonstration marched through the CBD to the official Australia Day parade. Angry, and fed up with the plight of Indigenous people being ignored, people pushed past the police into the parade chanting and holding placards that read “End the NT intervention” and “Stop deaths in custody”.
Speaking to the media, WAR spokesperson Meriki Onus explained “We don’t celebrate Australia Day, because Australia Day celebrates genocide. Today is Invasion Day for Aboriginal people.” The dispute over January 26 points to broader questions about nationalism, racism and the current situation facing Aboriginal people in Australia. The successful and inspiring 2015 Invasion Day rally is hopefully the first of many actions to challenge this situation.
By Mel Gregson