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Nadine Silva, Kearyn Cox and Rachel Carey
NITV News

Protesters at Boorloo Perth on Whadjuk Noongar Country urged Australians to change the date of the country's national day.

This year’s Invasion Day rallies coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the longest-running Indigenous land rights protest in the world.

Whadjuk Nyoongar Elder Herbert Bropho brought an Aboriginal Flag to the Boorloo rally that was flown at the Tent Embassy in Canberra fifty years ago.

“The changing of the date needs to be done now,” Bropho said.

“We’ve got the flag and that’s good, but it doesn’t say much more… Maybe the changing of the date can be the day that we raise the flag.”

Nearly 5,000 First Nations people and allies stood together in solidarity despite the city’s COVID outbreak.

Musicians and guest speakers echoed the calls for change and unity.

Performers included Natasha Eldridge, Delson Stokes, Jamahl Ryder and Flewnt.

Whadjuk Nyoongar Elder Margaret Culbong said some things have stayed the same over fifty years.

“Back then it was quite a task, I mean, we weren’t even allowed here in Forrest Chase,” Ms Culbong said.

“There’s been a lot of changes, but racism, discriminations and oppression still exist.”

Organiser Marriane Headland McKay told NITV News the event was COVID safe.

“We worked closely with the city of birth and the police and we didn't have an issue with any of that. We just had to make sure we did a COVID safety plan, have the QR codes and just tell everyone to check-in and have their masks.” 

Australians celebrated and protested the anniversary of British colonization of their country on a day that is officially known as Australia Day but is considered by Indigenous activists Invasion Day.

The Indigenous perspective is gaining traction in a debate that has simmered for decades over whether Australia’s national day should be shifted from Jan. 26 — a date many Indigenous people mark with mourning ceremonies.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.