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Celebrations commence for Australia Day 2020

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Ceremonies for this year’s Australia Day have commenced with Indigenous communities and the bushfire crisis taking centre stage at the nation’s key events.

Celebrations for this year's Australia Day have focused on Indigenous communities and the bushfire crisis at the nation's key events.

A ceremony at Barangaroo Reserve in Sydney featured performances from Indigenous groups including the Bayara Choir and the Koomurri Aboriginal Dance Troupe.

The Australia Day ceremony in Canberra began with a welcome to country from Ngunnawal elder, Tina Brown.

Invasion Day

"I acknowledge you my fellow Australians for it is the dust of the bones of my ancestors and the dust of the bones of your ancestors that mix together, shaping this land, uniting us as stewards of the future," she said.

Chair of the National Australia Day Council and recipient of the Order of Australia, Danielle Roche, addressed the congregation.

"On Australia Day we reflect the story of our nation. We reflect on the people who have built our nation from the first peoples to the ways of migration that built our modern society," she said.

"We respect their contribution to building a nation on the shared values of democracy, individual freedom, the rule of law and equality."

Indigenous Australia Day ceremony

The bushfires have been in the spotlight in Australia Day celebrations, Ms Roche acknowledging the crisis in her speech.

"For many communities, today provides the first opportunity to pause and give thanks to our nation's volunteers," she said.

"Many of them will spend Australia Day on the front lines, fighting fires, helping people recover and providing vital support to emergency services.

"We are grateful for their service. We remember those who tragically lost their lives. Those who lost their homes. We are thinking of them and their families today and into the future."

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also announced a new medal will be awarded to Australian firefighters, police, paramedics and others to recognise their service during the latest bushfire season.

The National Emergency Medal will be awarded to eligible emergency responded who gave sustained or "significant" service during the 2019-2020 bushfires.

"We also honour those Australians who have battled this devastating fire season, many of whom will be on fire grounds today protecting our communities from danger," the Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday.

However, the detailed criteria for who can be awarded the medal has not been determined and will be decided after a "consultation" once the bushfire crisis has passed.

The Governor-General David Hurley declared the bushfires to be a "nationally significant" emergency for the purposes of the medal after a recommendation from the Morrison government.

Indigenous Australia Day ceremony

More than 100,000 people took part in Invasion Day rallies around the country today.

Protests are scheduled to take place in towns and cities in several states today, including Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, Penrith, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Darwin, Brisbane and Townsville.

With AAP

Source: 9News

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