In a powerful rebuke of Australia Day celebrations, thousands of protestors marched from Hyde Park South to Yabun Festival in Victoria Park.
The protest, held on Gadigal land, was led by First Nations activist group Fighting in Resistance Equally (FIRE). This is the third year that FIRE have led the rally, with this year’s theme being pay the rent. Today’s protest was the first in recent years to only feature Indigenous speakers.
Uncle Vic Sims addressed the crowd in a rousing Welcome to Country.
“We’ve been here many thousands of years BC — before Cook.”
Alice Haines, a Gomeroi woman from the Vote No to Constitutional Recognition campaign spoke to the fact that First Nations communities are overwhelmingly against recognition.
Following, the parents of Tane Chatfield, who died in custody in 2017 spoke about their experiences with the correctional system in New South Wales. They noted that his death was ruled a suicide, without any witnesses or investigation within the first three hours. In three years, the family has had one meeting with corrective services.
“Corruptive services investigate corruptive services”, said Tane’s father, Colin.
Bruce Shillingsworth, a Muruwari and Budjiti man addressed environmental destruction, from dead rivers in North West NSW to the bushfires that have ravaged Australia this summer.
Shillingsworth called on the crowd to “become protectors of the earth, of our environment, our animals, and our wildlife.”
Throughout the protest speakers emphasised abolishing Australia Day, rather than simply changing the date.