Photographer's Note

An unusual picture, perhaps? I think it requires some explanation.

Australia's national day is simply called 'Australia Day' and marks the day - 26 January, 1788 - a British imperial fleet of 11 ships arrived in Port Jackson, now part of Sydney Harbour, with military personnel and about 750 convicts. They established a settlement and took possession of the whole eastern part of the continent.

There's always a parade of various community organisations and ethnic groups in the main street of each state's capital city. But in recent years a debate has begun over the question of changing the date. Many people - including me - now sympathise with the indigenous people who were dispossessed of their lands and way of life - and many of their lives - following the annexation of the continent; indeed there is nothing for them to celebrate. It's become common to refer to the day now as 'Invasion Day', and for demonstrations in the main cities demanding to 'Change the Date'. I went along on a very hot and humid Friday and joined the march in Melbourne of about 60,000 people. It began its march as soon as the official parade had ended, but the demo crowd far outnumbered the spectators of the parade.

My photo shows a Muslim woman holding one end of a large banner which proclaimed her group to be 'Muslims on Aboriginal land', demonstrating their support for the Aboriginal cause.

Over 160,000 British convicts and many of their family members were transported as punishment to the colonies in Australia, the last arriving in 1868. The indigenous people's experience of the colonial period and even the present period has been catastrophic and painful; ironically, the descendants of the convicts have come to be proud of their ancestry and are among the strongest opponents of changing the date. Each year, though, the momentum for change grows, and for the first time it now seems unstoppable.

Exposure Time: 1/160
F-Stop: f/5.6
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 28 mm

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