Date debate grows

• About 2000 people attended the Invasion Day protest. Photo by Dylan Ansell

ABOUT 2,000 people gathered in Forest Place on January 26 in support of changing the date of Australia Day – the biggest WA rally to date. 

The “Invasion Day” event took place alongside other Australia Day events in the city, highlighting the country’s competing perspectives. 

Premier Mark McGowan opened Australia Day by saying he didn’t think there was a clear enough consensus for changing the date, despite rallies across the country. 

Organisers and speakers at Perth’s rally travelled from as far as the Kimberley to speak about the injustices First Nations people face. 

These include high incarceration rates of Aboriginal men, “femicide” of Aboriginal women, land rights and the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in state care. 

“We worry about fracking, and we worry about our water,” one Kimberley elder told the crowd. 

“Soon there’ll be no country to go back to”. 

Elders on stage mourned the deaths of Aboriginal women killed since Australia’s colonisation. 

Noongar academic and co-writer of the 2020 case study “Indigenous femicide and the killing state”, Hannah McGlade, said modern society was built on the same colonial systems which sought to subjugate and harm Aboriginal women. 

Dr McGlade said this has created a culture in which violence against Indigenous women was able to prevail, unchecked and unnoticed. 

According to the case study she co-wrote, Aboriginal women are 17 times more likely to die from homicide than non-Indigenous women. 

Charmaine Thorne spoke about the mistreatment her family experienced through the media and judicial system while seeking justice for family member Stacey Thorne, who was murdered 13 years ago. 

She said the media’s use of bloodied images from the crime scene had been traumatic for the family and they did not feel supported by the courts. 

Stacey’s former partner Scott Austic was convicted of her murder, but he recently successfully appealed his life sentence. 

“Our family has not moved on and will not move on until [there is] justice,” Ms Thorne said.

by KELLY WARDEN

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