Violence has broken out at an Indigenous "Invasion Day" rally in Sydney on Thursday after a participant allegedly ignited a flag and police clashed with revellers.
At around 1pm in Ultimo in Sydney's CBD, officers were required to used a fire extinguisher to put the fire out before a scuffle occurred in which one police officer was injured and another woman sustained minor injuries, a NSW spokesperson has told the Huffington Post Australia.
Both the officer and the woman have been taken to hospital following the incident for assessments for injuries sustained while at the protest. Another 20-year-old man was also arrested at the scene and taken to Redfern police station, the spokesperson said.
"This was an isolated incident and an otherwise peaceful demonstration, overall police were pleased with the behaviour of the crowd," the spokesperson toll HuffPost Australia.
"There have been no additional reports of injuries and the march has since concluded."
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets as part of Indigenous "Invasion Day" rallies around the country opposing the name, date and history of Australia's national celebration.
Major protests have also taken place in a number of other large cities across the nation, including Melbourne and Canberra.
The Sydney rally commenced in Redfern where thousands joined a march calling for a change to the January 26 Australia Day date and urging greater equality for Indigenous Australians.
Moments of violence from that Sydney rally were caught on camera by protesters in attendance as police clashed with the crowd.
Several police sprayed the crowd with substance and tackled a young man trying to set the flag on fire pic.twitter.com/0R5PVRI6XA— Allan Clarke (@AllanJClarke) January 26, 2017
The Sydney Invasion Day rally just turned violent. pic.twitter.com/F66rQIJ292— Allan Clarke (@AllanJClarke) January 26, 2017
Large rallies are also underway in Melbourne as protesters took over Flinders Street in the city's CBD with chants and banners.
"Don't get angry here, mob. I know you are angry...it is not our desire to cause further division but it [we won't] keep lying," a key speaker at the Melbourne rally told the crowd.
In Canberra, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull commented on the possibility of changing the date of Australia day while at a barbecue, according to the Guardian Australia.
"I believe we should maintain the date. Everyone is entitled to a point of view but I think most Australians accept January 26 as Australia Day," he said.
"It is a day where we celebrate the rich diversity of all of our cultures from that from our first Australians... to the new citizens, migrants who come from such diverse range of countries."
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also addressed the uproar surrounding the national date while at at a citizenship ceremony in Brimbank, northwest of the Melbourne CBD.
"Whatever one's view about the date of Australia Day, I think we can all agree that we should remember our first Australians for whom this day actually carries some sadness," he is reported as saying.
"Too many long years of injuries and indignities, great and small. So today, on Australia Day we honour them – and every day – the guardians of this ancient continent, the keepers of the world's oldest living culture, our first Australians."Suggest a correction