• Thousands attended March 4 Justice rallies across Australia calling for action against gendered violence in Parliament (Getty Images AsiaPac)Source: Getty Images AsiaPac
First Nations women have been at the forefront of protests across the nation, delivering impassioned calls to arms, and highlighting the ongoing violence experienced by Indigenous women since colonisation.
Mikele Syron

15 Mar 2021 - 8:16 PM  UPDATED 18 Mar 2021 - 3:37 PM

Rallies have been held in capital cities across Australia today, with thousands taking to the streets to protest against misogyny and violence against women. 

The movement has been backed by Indigenous leaders, who have called for mandatory gendered violence and sexual assault training for all federal MPs and their staff, the enactment of a federal Gender Equality Act, and more government funding to combat the issues.

Gunnai-Gunditjmara senator Lidia Thorpe, present at the rally in Canberra, told NITV News that while the marches were a sign of solidarity, to properly stamp out sexist and racist behaviours, white Australia needed to stand in alliance with its Indigenous people.

“Black women in this country have been experiencing colonial violence for more than 200 years. We have been marching for a long time.

“Women are not safe. Inequality is part of the problem too,” she said.

The demonstrations follow a slew of sexual assault allegations made against the political class in Canberra, including a widely publicised historical rape claim against Attorney-General Christian Porter.

Aunty Violet Sheridan, also attending the rally in front of Parliament House, delivered an impassioned Welcome to Country, declaring “enough is enough” in the face of violence against women.

The Elder called for an independent inquiry into the alleged misconduct of parliamentarians

“Women need to be safe in this great big house, women need to be safe all around Australia,” she said.

Similar sentiments were echoed in Hobart, with Indigenous activist Nala Mansell emphasising that violence against women in Australia is not a modern problem, with First Nations women experiencing brutalities since colonisation.

“I’ve had enough. This is not an issue that will ever silence us, and this is not an issue that will ever go away.

“We demand the end of a society dominated by white men,” Mansell said.

In Sydney, Indigenous businesswoman and activist Marie Barbaric also made a powerful speech, telling the crowd that she was emotional and proud to be a part of the event and labelling herself a “survivor of institutional abuse”.

“For me, this is closure. It’s been a lifetime of pain and today, I’m surrounded by women who have been holding on to the same sort of pain.

“To our perpetrators, a change is coming, and you will be held accountable,” she said.

The protests have tapped into the sentiment behind a growing movement towards gender equality in the country.

Across the nation there was a total of 40 rallies, taking place in major cities and regional towns. All called for an urgent change in the culture of federal parliament, as well as addressing the widespread issues of sexism, misogyny and dangerous workplaces, especially towards First Nations women.