Tens of thousands rally in Naarm (Melbourne) Invasion Day protest

January 27, 2023

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Tens of thousands of people have hit the streets of Naarm (Melbourne) for the first Invasion Day protest since 2021.

The theme of this year’s rally is Treaty Before Voice, which is in reference to the forthcoming referendum on the Voice.

Many grassroots First Nations activists are demanding a more substantial path to reform than is being proposed by the Voice referendum. This is a position echoed by Greens Senator and DjabWurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe.

Despite media reports to the contrary, the rally wasn’t a rallying call for an explicit ‘no’ vote on the Voice. Long time Indigenous activist Gary Foley told the crowd “you’re in the process of being sold a pup” that’s akin to “lipstick on a pig.”

“Beware of a black bourgeois trying to sell you a referendum. Trying to sell you a shonky proposition called the Voice.”

“I want you to think before you vote, make sure you’re not being maneuvered into a position of being complicit in the latest of a long line of cosmetic bulls–t measures that will achieve nothing in the way of justice for us.”

Foley implored to “think carefully and insist on more information” before calling on those who are unsure about how to vote on the Voice referendum to abstain.

“I’m not advocating voting one way or the other. If you can’t make a decision one way or the other, write on the ballot paper ‘Sovereignty. Land rights now’ and send a message.”

Matt Hrkac

Matt Hrkac is an award-winning photographer and photojournalist based in Geelong and works across Melbourne and throughout Victoria.


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