Thousands of people across Australia took part in demonstrations around the country on Thursday to protest the country’s national day.
Australia Day, which falls on January 26, marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships in the Australia in 1788.
Many see the date as the beginning of a long history of colonization and oppression of Indigenous Australians, who have occupied Australia for at least 65,000 years.
Historians estimate tens of thousands of Indigenous Australians were killed after European settlers arrived, according to the BBC.
Protesters are calling for the holiday to be abolished and to rename January 26 as “Invasion Day”.
“Let us all recognize the unique privilege that we have to share this continent with the world’s oldest continuous culture,” Australia’s prime minister Anthony Albanese said at a flag-raising and citizenship ceremony in the capital, Canberra.
Calling it a “difficult day” for Indigenous Australians, Albanese said however, his government does not have a plan to move the holiday to another day.
This year’s protests come as Albanese’s government plans to hold a referendum later this year on recognizing Indigenous people in Australia’s constitution, which currently does not refer to them.
If passed, it would require consultations with Indigenous people on decisions that affect their lives, according to Reuters.
A referendum is required to amend Australia’s constitution, which came into effect in January 1901.