At a press conference in Djarrbarrgalli (Sydney Domain) this afternoon, First Nations activists confirmed that Invasion Day protests in Sydney will push ahead despite COVID-19 restrictions.
Under current laws, the protest’s maximum capacity is limited to 500 people.
Activist and Bundjalung woman Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts began with an Acknowledgement of Country and spoke to the purposes of the protest.
“We are demanding justice for our [people’s] survival, celebrating the power of our culture as one, and advocating for the abolition of Australia Day overall,” she said.
Turnbull-Roberts echoed Gladys Berejiklian’s calls on 2GB this morning for the easing of restrictions in the lead up to January 26th, but argued that this must happen for the benefit of the protest, rather than for the celebration of Australia Day.
“‘Australia Day’ is one of the darkest days for my people.” she said. “For us, it is a day on which we acknowledge the mourning, genocide and pain that our people have been subject to here in this Country.”
Turnbull-Roberts then went on to assure that the protests would be in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines, asking that those with symptoms remain home, and that those who attend wear masks, bring hand sanitiser, and follow social distancing precautions.
Gomeroi man Ian Brown, spokesperson for Gamilaraay Next Generation and protest organiser, also spoke to the purpose of the rally — to oppose “the ongoing dispossession of our land,” and for the abolition of Australia Day as “there is nothing to celebrate.”
Brown noted that last year’s Black Lives Matter protests saw a turnout of thousands despite strong police resistance, and stressed that next Tuesday’s protests will similarly be going ahead without plans to limit numbers to 500.
“Despite the restrictions around the protest we are calling for everyone to come down here to join us,” he said, reiterating that COVID safety guidelines must be followed by attendees.
Turnbull-Roberts concluded the conference by speaking to the restrictions, noting that state ministers have given the go-ahead to large scale sporting fixtures such as football games in the SCG and the NRL.
“If you preach Black Lives Matter, well this is Black Lives Matter.”
The 2021 Sydney Invasion Day Protest will be held at 9am 26 January at Djarrbarrgalli (The Domain). For more information, see the Facebook event.