Calls to abolish Australia Day during Brisbane Invasion Day protest

The crowd marched the streets of Brisbane's CBD with passion, chanting, dancing, holding placards and ultimately calling to abolish Australia Day.

There was strength in numbers as Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance and Brisbane Aboriginal-Sovereign Embassy organisers led 2000 people from Emma Miller Place to Musgrave Park in South Brisbane.

Chants were heard and dances were seen in Brisbane's CBD on January 26 as part of a march to abolish Australia Day. Photo: Jocelyn Garcia

Chants were heard and dances were seen in Brisbane's CBD on January 26 as part of a march to abolish Australia Day. Photo: Jocelyn Garcia

The familiar chant of "always was, always will be Aboriginal land" reverberated before the Invasion Day protesters' march gave way to dancing on Adelaide Street just off King George Square, before continuing to Musgrave Park, a common Indigenous meeting place.

One organiser, Philip Marrii, said the day marked the first fleet's arrival to colonise Aboriginal land but he and his supporters were calling for change.

"For me personally, it's also the anniversary of a massacre that happened on the 50th anniversary of colonisation, the Waterloo Creek massacre of my people, the Wirrayaraay people," he said.

"For Aboriginal people, it became a day of mourning long before white people had decided to celebrate it as a public holiday to make it a cultural institution for white Australians."

Thousands joined the crowd as they marched through the streets in the city before heading to Musgrave Park. Photo: Jocelyn Garcia

Thousands joined the crowd as they marched through the streets in the city before heading to Musgrave Park. Photo: Jocelyn Garcia

Mr Marrii said the march was to remember the past and to acknowledge the fact that Aboriginal sovereignty had never been recognised.

"Until that situation is rectified, there's not a right day on the calendar to celebrate the existence of Australia and its culture, history and identity," he said.

"Our general message is to abolish Australia Day but we also have a wider message that the Australian colonial project needs to be dismantled and Aboriginal sovereignty recognised to respect all people that live here."

Invasion Day protests across the nation have been growing in size over recent years, coinciding with an annual spike in debate about the status of the country's national day.

Invasion Day protesters are seen on Australia Day in Brisbane. Photo: AAP/Glenn Hunt.

Invasion Day protesters are seen on Australia Day in Brisbane. Photo: AAP/Glenn Hunt.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk paid respects to the First Nations peoples during flag raising and citizenship ceremonies in Townsville.

"Australia Day is a time for all Australians - new citizens and old - to come together with respect, mateship and pride," the premier said.

" ... We celebrate our national day with thoughtful awareness of the past."

Mr Marrii said the ongoing annual marches in Brisbane spread the message that colonisation and genocide were not okay, with more people from diverse backgrounds joining the march.

"A few years ago, it wasn't mainstream and now lots of people are becoming more conscious and aware of what we're doing here," he said.

"A lot more people are realising that everything is not as rosy as they were brought up to believe it was.

"There is mourning and people do become passionate and vocal during the march but there is a sense of community spirit and camaraderie there with the hope things will change one day."

Before the march, the crowd fell silent as Birri-Gubba teenager Guyala Bayles shared her family history through a poem titled Abolish Australia Day.

"If I came to your country and walked into your family’s house uninvitedly," she began.

"Took everything you owned,

"Took your kids away as well and put them in separate homes.

Invasion Day protesters march through the streets. Photo: AAP/Glenn Hunt.

Invasion Day protesters march through the streets. Photo: AAP/Glenn Hunt.

"You try to fight me but you are no match to the numerous of men I have, you see."

The 19-year-old said she was inspired to write the poem for those who had no voice.

"I feel like if there isn't enough young fellas that have a voice and our elders have gone through so much, they didn't go through that for nothing," she said.

"The poem was about my great-great grandfather who was taken away and tied like a dog with a chain until he died.

"It was also about my great-great grandmother who was taken as part of the stolen generation.

"She was left in an unfamiliar place, she was striped of her culture and her language and told that she couldn't be a proud Aboriginal person.

"That was de-humanising."

Her poem touched on statistics of deaths of Aboriginal girls, human rights and a call for Australia to "clean up its act".

Placards were held high with pride as people began to chant. Photo: Jocelyn Garcia

Placards were held high with pride as people began to chant. Photo: Jocelyn Garcia

Ms Bayles said it was time for change because "being colonised under white society" was not meant for Aboriginal people.

"We need our basic human rights as First Nations people of land," she said.

"We know what's best for our land, our children and our society and we're trying to honour our great ancestors who went through hell.

"How long do our people have to go through this? When is Australia going to hear us? There is no excuse that it is still happening today."

As the hundreds marched for change, some of Australia Day's so-called traditions continued unabated.

Families, tourists and the plain curious crowded around a small tarp stretched out below the Story Bridge and watched as containers of roaches were placed in the middle and left to scurry outwards.

Cane toads were also competing for glory around the sunshine state, including at the Caboolture Historical Village north of Brisbane and The Colmslie Hotel in the Brisbane's south-east.

- With AAP

This story Calls to abolish Australia Day during Brisbane Invasion Day protest first appeared on Brisbane Times.