Protesters are seen during an Invasion Day rally in Melbourne.

Protesters are seen during an Invasion Day rally in Melbourne. Source: AAP.

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26 January

Protest and celebration as Australia Day marks the moment 'this land changed forever'

Follow along with the SBS News live blog as people from across the country come together to protest, mourn and celebrate on Australia day.

Protesters are seen during an Invasion Day rally in Melbourne. Source: AAP.

Published , updated 26 January 2021, 5:18 pm
By SBS
26 January 2021, 1:19 pm

NSW Police confirm five people arrested after largely 'well behaved' protest

NSW Police has confirmed four people were arrested after a "small group of protesters" moved on to Hyde Park after the organisers of the Invasion Day rally in Sydney negotiated with police to hold a socially-distanced rally in The Domain.

Two of the people arrested will be issued with infringement notices in relation to COVID-19 breaches, with the other two charged with hindering police and assault of a police officer, NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Willing said in a media conference on Tuesday.

A fifth person was arrested during the rally for disruption of the peace, he added. 

Organisers of the rally had negotiated with police to allow it to go ahead in The Domain, with attendees split into socially-distanced groups of 500. In response, organisers cancelled the planned march throughout the city and called on protesters to leave the area following a number of speeches this morning.

"We reached some agreement with protest organisers, taking into account the heat that is obvious today, the potential disruption to the city and traffic and, indeed, the safety of all persons who are wanting to express their views as part of this protest, to have protest attendees break into groups engage in social distancing as best they possibly could with the assistance of police," Commissioner Willing said.

"That largely occurred and I want to thank the protest organisers for doing what they did to ensure that happened."

Police estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 people attended the rally. Attendees were "well behaved" with the exception of the small group who were not part of the organised event, the spokesperson said.

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26 January 2021, 12:55 pm

Some further details on the Sydney arrests

NITV has confirmed some further details of the arrests following the Sydney Invasion Day rally, which saw more than 1,000 people gather peacefully at The Domain. 

They said a woman and a man were arrested at Hyde Park for allegedly breaching health and safety orders as demonstrators dispersed. 

We expect NSW Police to hold a media conference shortly.

26 January 2021, 12:48 pm

Invasion Day events underway in the Territory

Two Invasion Day events have gotten started in the Northern Territory, with approximately 1,000 people gathered in Darwin and a second group in the central desert city of Alice Springs.

The Darwin rally began in Civic Park with protesters now marching through the city for the first time as part of an Invasion Day protest.

26 January 2021, 12:29 pm

At least two protesters arrested after Sydney Invasion Day march

At least two people have been arrested shortly after a peaceful Invasion Day rally in Sydney concluded.

A march throughout the city was cancelled by organisers at the last minute due to concerns over the police response. 

It is as of yet unclear how many people have been apprehended, or what led to the arrests. More to details to come shortly. 

26 January 2021, 1:00 pm

Who was Pemulwuy, the 'hero who took on the might of the white man'?

A warrior. A freedom fighter. A real-life action hero.

These are just some of the words used to describe Pemulwuy, but many Australians don't know his story. 

Pemulwuy was an Aboriginal man from Sydney who was on the shores when the British landed in 1788. He would go on to lead a decade-long war of resistance against them.

SBS News reporter Amelia Dunn has reported on his incredible legacy and the push to preserve it, which you can read below:

26 January 2021, 12:20 pm

Australian of the Year's powerful message to other survivors of sexual abuse

Newly-awarded Australian of the Year Grace Tame has issued a powerful message to fellow survivors of sexual assault and child sexual abuse: "you are not alone". 

The 26-year-old was recognised on Monday night for her tireless advocacy, particularly her fight to overturn Tasmanian laws preventing sexual assault survivors from being identified.

Source: AAP

“Child sexual abuse and sexual assault are issues that are still happening everyday and the buck is stopping with innocent men, women and children and that’s not okay," she told SBS News.

“We still have a lot of work to do."

You can read the full article from my colleague Tom Stayner below:

26 January 2021, 11:56 am

Sydney Invasion Day rally ends without march

Protest organisers in Sydney have asked attendees to head home after the Invasion Day rally, opting to forgo a planned march across the city.

Organisers said they had decided to cancel the march after negotiating with police to allow more than the permitted 500 people to gather in The Domain, ABC News reported. 

NITV journalist Rachael Hocking, who is on the ground at the event, reported that Gomeroi woman Gwenda Stanley said they had been threatened by police if they "took to the streets".

"Instead of allowing them to incite a riot, we've advised everyone to disperse and stay safe," she said.

More than 1,000 people attended the open-air event, despite organisers failing to get an exemption from COVID-19 public health orders for it to go ahead.

Protesters sat peacefully listening to speakers while police officers appeared to remain on the sidelines.

26 January 2021, 11:40 am

Melbourne Invasion Day march kicks off, with groups of 100 protesters

The Melbourne Invasion Day March has begun after a short delay as protest marshals worked to divide the crowd into groups of 100 inline with the state's coronavirus gathering limits.

The groups of 100 protesters, keeping 10 metres apart, are now making their way through the city to Catani Gardens near St Kilda Beach, as they call for the abolition of Australia Day.

More than 3,500 people had clicked attending on a Facebook page for the event. Melbourne traditionally has one of the highest turn-outs for Invasion Day protests, with tens of thousands of people showing up in 2020. 

A Victoria Police spokesperson did not comment on the number of people at the protest. 

The city's traditional Australia Day parade was cancelled due to the pandemic.

26 January 2021, 11:30 am

Invasion Day protests taking place across the country

A number of Invasion Day rallies are well underway across the country despite warnings over coronavirus gathering limits. Here are some photos from the protests.

Source: AAP

A protestor is seen attaching an Aboriginal flag to a statue of Queen Victoria during an Invasion Day event in Brisbane's Queens Gardens.

Source: AAP

More than a thousand people gathered peacefully at The Domain in Sydney this morning for an Invasion Day rally. Earlier this week, NSW Police warned that attendees could face fines or arrest if COVID-19 gathering limits were breached.


Protesters have also gathered at an Invasion Day march in Melbourne's CBD despite COVID-19 rules limiting outdoor gatherings to 100 people. 

26 January 2021, 11:13 am

Anthony Albanese calls for referendum on constitutional recognition to be held on 26 January

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has shared his thoughts on the debate around the date of Australia's national holiday, proposing that the 26 January should be the day we hold a referendum on the constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.

"We need to work out ways in which we avoid the divisive debate that has occurred every year around this time, about the choice of date to have our national day," he said.

Source: AAP

"One of the things that I proposed now three years ago on Australia Day in 2018, was the idea that what we could do perhaps is to consider having the date for the Constitutional recognition of First Australians, have that referendum on 26 January so that truly that was the date in which we could remember our history and our past, but also acknowledge, of course, that it is a very significant day, and that in Australia in 2021, most of us either descendants or directly, people who have come through migration to make modern Australia the great multicultural nation that we are."

He added that it's time to have a debate about how to move forward "in a way that truly unites the nation".

"One that recognises dispossession, but one that also recognises that modern Australia has continued to evolve and will continue to evolve into the future," he said.

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