While Australia paused on Thursday to honour the Queen with a National Day of Mourning, thousands are protesting in cities across the country demanding an end to the monarchy.
Following Elizabeth II’s death on September 8, the Australian Government has received wide-spread backlash over its decision to hold a one-off public holiday on September 22.
“Some believe it’s entirely appropriate to mark the passing of Australia’s head of state for 70 years,” ABC news presenter David Speers told viewers on Thursday.
“But some have also found this way over the top and even offensive.
“Particularly some Indigenous Australians who do see the monarch as symbolising colonisation and dispossession in Australia.”
Demonstrations against ‘racist colonial imperialism’
For Tarneen Onus-Williams, a Yigar Gunditjmara, Bindal, Yorta Yorta person, today’s National Day of Mourning was a slap in the face for Indigenous people.
“It’s upsetting that they [non-Indigenous Australians] can celebrate the invasion on January 26 but they can’t have a day of mourning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people around the country who have lost millions of people to the British invasion,” she told Yahoo News Australia.
As a member of the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, Tarneen is leading a National Day of Protest in Melbourne, calling for the abolition of the monarchy.
“The monarchy represents a lot of pain, genocide and colonialism for the Aboriginal community and I think it's really important that it is disbanded,” she said
“It doesn’t really have any use anymore, and I don't think it ever did, apart from to destroy and steal land.
“The Aboriginal community doesn’t want the monarchy to exist anymore. It represents too much pain and hurt for all of us.”
With fake red blood smeared across her palms, Greens Senator and DjabWurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe faced hundreds of angry protestors at the Melbourne event.
"The crown's boot is on our neck and we're sick of it," she yelled to the crowd.
"Do you know that we've had over 20,000 Aboriginal children that have been stolen in 2022 and you want to mourn the coloniser who brought the pain and genocide here to our people?"
Similar rallies are also being held in Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane, where protestors burnt an Australian flag.
“This is a demonstration against racist, colonial imperialism,” Fighting in Solidarity Towards Treaties (FISTT) wrote online.
“The dispossessed and oppressed demand justice and land back.
“The Commonwealth are inheritors of stolen land and stolen wealth.
“The Windsors do not represent democracy or a nation steering towards equality, but the sustaining of white supremacy.”
Leaders gather in nation's capital for memorial service
Almost 700 people including former prime ministers, judges, military chiefs and other dignitaries descended on Canberra for a national memorial service on Thursday.
From inside Parliament House, Her Late Majesty was remembered as an example of “tireless and selfless service, devotion to duty and compassion for others".
But it was the Governor-General, now His Majesty’s representative, that acknowledged the Queen’s death had "promoted different reactions for some in our community".
He noted the journey to reconciliation with First Nations people was one that Australia still needed to complete.
A 1954 painting of the Queen, by eight-time Archibald Prize winner Sir William Dargie, formed the centrepiece of the service inside the Great Hall, while Australian singer Anthony Callea performed the national anthem.
Among the guests were former prime ministers Paul Keating, John Howard and Scott Morrison, just three of the 16 prime ministers who served during the Queen’s reign.
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