• Indigenous protesters march through central Brisbane to protest what the call "Invasion Day" on Australia Day in Brisbane, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. (AAP)Source: AAP
Media is only interested in Indigenous protests if they're "burning down buildings", says a veteran Aboriginal activist.
Ella Archibald-Binge

21 Jan 2019 - 4:36 PM  UPDATED 21 Jan 2019 - 4:38 PM

Veteran political activist Sam Watson has appealed to media to meaningfully engage with Indigenous communities ahead of Invasion Day rallies across Australia.

"It would be really worthwhile if journalists out there came down to our community and tried to talk to our parents, our elders and tried to engage in a meaningful way and tried to find out where Aboriginal people are headed and what we’re trying to achieve," he told NITV News.

The Brisbane Elder - who co-founded the Brisbane chapter of the Black Panther Party in the 1970s - said commercial media had generally ignored many of the issues underpinning Invasion Day protests.

"Media is not interested in what makes our people tick, what our people really want, what our people really need," he said.

"They’re only interested if we’re burning down buildings or knuckling on with the coppers out in the middle of the street.

"The media, instead of reporting the news of the day, is actually shaping the news of the day by peddling those extremist quick five-second news grabs."

Invasion Day marches are growing each year, attracting supporters from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

The rallies highlight a gaping divide between those who celebrate Australia Day, and those who want to change the date, or abolish it altogether.

They also aim to highlight the disparity between First Nations people and the wider population in areas such as health, incarceration, deaths in custody, child removals and suicide rates. 

Mr Watson says it's important that Australian audiences are getting the full story, in order to better understand Indigenous perspectives.

"Australians, because of the enormous pressures of life that we’re living now [and] having to work long hours, they get very little time to absorb the news of the day," he said.

"So it’s important that when they do get the opportunity to read the newspapers or look at the TV or listen to the radio, that they’re receiving quality, unbiased, balanced news reporting."

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend January 26 rallies at capital cities and regional centres across Australia on Saturday.