Australia

Australia Day campaign raises A$100,000 to replace billboard

GoFundMe page showing two girls with Australian flags Image copyright Victoria Gov

A campaign to reinstate an Australia Day advert featuring two girls in hijabs has raised more than A$100,000 (£60,000; $75,000) in donations.

The ad was taken down from a Melbourne street this week after threats were made to the billboard company.

The digital image was accused of being "propaganda" and not reflecting Australian culture.

The campaigners have raised funds to pay for "multiple billboards across Australia".

Dee Madigan, the creative director behind the advert, which was promoting a series of government-backed events, organised the crowd-funding campaign to show that "most Australians are not horrible racists".

"I'm really angry, this was a photo of two young Australian girls celebrating Australia Day," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"I feel for the Muslim community, they're damned if they do, damned if they don't.

"You get all the racists saying 'oh, they don't assimilate' and then there's literally a photo of them celebrating Australia Day and you get the same people saying 'that's not right' - it's just not OK."

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption A photo of the billboard was shared widely online

The photo featured on the billboard was one of a series taken at last year's Australia Day event in Melbourne. It featured two young girls wearing hijabs and holding Australia flags.

Lawyer and community rights advocate Mariam Veiszadeh said the girls featured in the photo and their family supported moves to reinstate the photo or include it in another campaign.

"From my perspective I explained we could associate those images with something positive, and the girls' time in the media spotlight would be accompanied by thousands speaking up against Islamophobia, gathered around them to stand in support and solidarity," she told Guardian Australia.

Australia Day is a public holiday celebrated on 26 January, marking the day Britain's First Fleet arrived in 1788.

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