Over 60,000 people marched in Melbourne in the biggest gathering of a series of protests across the country on Friday 26 January 2018, dubbed as Invasion Day.
The massive crowd surpassed expectations and exceeded numbers at the official Australia Day parade on the same day.
In other major cities, marches were also held celebrating Indigenous resistance, calling for action on the Uluru statement and urging an end to “racist” and harmful government policies.
Together they presented a voice that organisers said could not be ignored.
The tens of thousands in Melbourne marched under the banner of “abolish Australia Day”.
Gary Foley, leading Indigenous activist said “I haven’t seen a crowd like this since the 1970’s.”
“If we keep mobilising these sort of numbers, governments cannot ignore us.” he further added.
Outnumbering the Australia Day parade, the Invasion Day crowd chanted “no pride in genocide” as they walked past with the parade spectators watching the protest and awkwardly waving little plastic Australian flags.
In Sydney, protesters joined two events: the Long March for Justice Through Treaty, a recreation of the 1988 march from Redfern to Hyde Park, and an Invasion Day march from the Block in Redfern to Victoria Park.
A smaller crowd of several hundred turned out for the Justice Through Treaty march, which featured a series of powerful speeches from the Shadow Human Services Minister, Linda Burney, and the Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary, Sally McManus.
McManus called for an end to the community development program in remote communities. She labelled it deeply racist and said it ought to be abolished.
“It’s a racist program because it is only in rural and remote areas, 80% of the people in the program are Indigenous and they have to work 25 hours a week, compulsory work, no sick leave, no annual leave, no workers’ compensation, no minimum wage,” said Sally Mcmanus, prompting cries of “shame” from the crowd.
It’s just a matter of time, as more Australians are getting behind the protest to move Australia Day to another day.