Invasion Day rallies in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will protest Indigenous Voice referendum

Shock as invasion day protesters will campaign AGAINST vote in parliament – as Greens senator Lidia Thorpe’s sister emerges as key figure

  • Lidia Thorpe’s sister Meriki Onus will lead the rally in Melbourne
  • Activists protest against Voice referendum
  • Public to vote between August and November 2023

The annual ‘Invasion Day’ protests against January 26 as the date of Australia Day have taken a surprising turn, with thousands protesting to oppose Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Indigenous vote referendum in parliament.

Indigenous rights rallies to be held in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on January 26 will protest the federal government’s plan for a national vote on introducing an advisory body on Aboriginal issues into the constitution.

That’s because rally organizers — including Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe’s sister Meriki Onus, who is involved in planning the Melbourne protest — are calling for a national vote that will only come after a treaty between Indigenous peoples and Australian governments.

Greens Senator for Victoria Lidia Thorpe (left) has strongly opposed and openly criticized the Voice to Parliament. Her activist sister, Meriki, has confirmed that the Melbourne Invasion Day protest will be themed ‘Treaty Before Voice’.

Greens senator Lidia Thorpe's sister Meriki Onus (pictured) will lead thousands at Melbourne's Invasion Day rally on January 26

Greens senator Lidia Thorpe’s sister Meriki Onus (pictured) will lead thousands at Melbourne’s Invasion Day rally on January 26

More than 250 Indigenous leaders supported the vote at the Uluru Dialogues in 2017, but a small group of delegates, including Senator Thorpe, walked out in protest.

Ms Onus, the co-founder of activist group Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, has confirmed that ‘Treaty Before Voice’ is the theme of this year’s rally in Melbourne. Nine newspapers reported.

Meanwhile, posters advertising the Brisbane march read: ‘Sovereignty has never been relinquished. Treaty for a vote in Parliament!’

Gwenda Stanley, co-organiser of the Sydney rally, has reportedly dismissed the referendum as a waste of money and adopted ‘sovereignty before Voice’ as the city’s theme.

The Gomerio woman and caretaker of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra said Indigenous peoples have never marched to demand “a voice” and would rather have “self-determination”.

“The most important message we need to get across [at the rally] is that many of us are not for the vote, but for sovereignty,” Ms Stanley told the The Sydney Morning Herald.

‘It’s about our self-determination as Aboriginal people, as the original monarchs of this land. We’ve never marched through the streets singing ‘we want a Voice’.’

Activists will attend Invasion Day rallies in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to commemorate the start of Indigenous colonization by the British and protest the referendum on the Indigenous vote in parliament (pictured, 2022 Invasion Day protesters in Canberra)

Activists will attend Invasion Day rallies in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to commemorate the start of Indigenous colonization by the British and protest the referendum on the Indigenous vote in parliament (pictured, 2022 Invasion Day protesters in Canberra)

Activist group Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance calls for a national voice that will only come after a treaty between Indigenous peoples and Australian governments is in place (photo, poster of Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance rally)

Activist group Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance calls for a national voice that will only come after a treaty between Indigenous peoples and Australian governments is in place (photo, poster of Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance rally)

Earlier this month, Professor Megan Davis, co-chair of the Uluru Dialogue, urged Aussies to support the referendum.

The Voice “makes a real difference on the ground” and secures the people of First Nation within Australia’s democratic system, she said.

The official Yes campaign is likely to kick off at the end of next month, with the public able to vote on the referendum as early as August.

On January 1, Linda Burney, Minister for Indigenous Australians, confirmed that the Albanian government wanted to introduce legislation to set up the Voice referendum “sometime in March”.

Activists criticized The Voice to Parliament as a modern example of Indigenous rights being defined by 'white people' (pictured, 2022 Invasion Day protesters in Melbourne)

Activists criticized The Voice to Parliament as a modern example of Indigenous rights being defined by ‘white people’ (pictured, 2022 Invasion Day protesters in Melbourne)

The government then aims to pass the legislation in May, after six weeks of scrutiny by a parliamentary committee.

This would allow for a public vote as early as August, but it is speculated that October could be a likely date as the month is free of major distractions such as football finals and school holidays.

Ms Burney is optimistic that once the referendum is set Australia will support it.

“Once that’s all mobilized I think we’ll have a country ready for change,” Ms Burney said.

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