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Man living in UK for 56 years loses job over immigration papers

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Man living in UK for 56 years loses job over immigration papers” was written by Amelia Gentleman, for The Guardian on Monday 9th April 2018 14.35 UTC

An experienced special needs teaching assistant lost his job after his employers ruled that he was an illegal immigrant, despite the fact he has lived in the UK for more than 50 years.

Michael Braithwaite, who arrived in Britain from Barbados in 1961, had worked at a north London primary school for over 15 years when a routine check on his immigration status revealed he did not have an up-to-date identity document.

The personnel department got in touch to tell him that without a biometric card he could not continue to be employed. The 66-year-old lost his full-time job in 2017 after the local authority ruled he needed to submit documentary proof that he had the right to live in the UK. He has been trying for two years without success to get the Home Office to acknowledge that he is in Britain legally.

The unexpected immigration difficulties have pushed him close to a mental breakdown. “It made me feel like I was an alien. I almost fell apart with the stress,” he said.

Braithwaite arrived in London with his family when he was nine, when his father moved to work for the Post Office, and he has lived in the UK since. He had always assumed he was British, having attended primary school and secondary school here, and having worked continuously since leaving school. He married in London and has three British children and five grandchildren.

“I never applied for a British passport. We thought we were British,” he said. Because he arrived in the UK before 1973 he has an automatic permanent right to remain, but the introduction of the “hostile environment” policy by Theresa May as home secretary in 2013 has required employers, the NHS, Jobcentre staff and landlords to run checks for papers, causing problems for people who do not have documentary proof of their right to live in the UK.

Michael Braithwaite with his one-year-old granddaughter Sieena Ray
Michael Braithwaite with his one-year-old granddaughter Sieena Ray. Photograph: Alicia Canter for the Guardian

Braithwaite is one of an emerging group of people who were born in Commonwealth countries and arrived in the UK as children who have discovered half a century later that they have serious and hard to fix immigration problems. Lawyers working for people in this situation say the level of documentary proof required by the Home Office is extremely high, with officials requesting to see a minimum of one, but preferably four, pieces of documentary evidence for every year spent in the UK. Often GP surgeries and schools that might have been able to provide documentary proof of their residence have since closed, and records destroyed.

Public anger over the emerging problem is rising. Patrick Vernon, editor of Black History Month magazine, has launched a petition calling on the Home Office to reduce the high burden of proof required from Windrush generation settlers who arrived from the Caribbean in the UK as children. “As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of Windrush, this creates a sour message about whether we are valued and respected. A lot of people are feeling very upset,” he said.

Fundraising efforts to help pay for cancer treatment for Albert Thompson (not his real name) who is in a similar situation to Braithwaite, raised more than £24,000 in five days. Thompson arrived from Jamaica as a teenager and has lived and worked in the UK continuously for 44 years but was denied NHS radiotherapy for prostate cancer last November.

Braithwaite was distraught at losing his job. “I had a good rapport with the children. The head said I was an asset to the school, but the HR department said I was illegal because I didn’t have a biometric card,” he said. A biometric card is a residence permit issued to non-British residents, with details of their immigration status. “I had no idea what a biometric card was. I had no idea there was a need to naturalise.”

He began attempting to untangle his immigration situation in 2016 when he first understood there was a problem. When it proved difficult to resolve quickly, he lost his job in February 2017. His lawyer said Home Office records showed he had the right to be in the UK, but officials repeatedly failed to issue him with documents to reflect this.

The latest letter from the Home Office, sent this month, told him he needed to provide further documentary evidence to show he was in the UK before 1973.

Guy Hewitt, the high commissioner for Barbados to the UK, said he would be “raising the case of his unjust treatment directly with the UK authorities”.

Highlighting the contribution that West Indian migrants made in the post-second world war era to the building of modern Britain, and given “the UK’s commitment to the Commonwealth”, Hewitt called on the government “to act with urgency and compassion to find a solution to the current treatment of some elderly, Caribbean-born, UK-residents as ‘illegal immigrants’ as a result of their irregular status”. He said such treatment exposed them to the risk of “destitution and detention, along with the possibility of deportation”.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We will be in touch with Mr Braithwaite very soon to assure him that we are looking to resolve his case as soon as possible and issue him with documentation confirming his status here. We value the contribution made by Commonwealth citizens who have made a life in the UK.”

Enny Choudhury, Braithwaite’s lawyer, from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “For almost one year the Home Office has failed to issue the biometric card, without which he cannot work or move on with his life, causing uncertainty and distress.”

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‘The stress is making me ill’: woman’s immigration battle after 51 years in UK

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “‘The stress is making me ill’: woman’s immigration battle after 51 years in UK” was written by Amelia Gentleman, for The Guardian on Monday 26th March 2018 05.00 UTC

Sarah O’Connor moved to Britain from Jamaica 51 years ago, when she was six, and has lived here ever since. Last year she was challenged by the benefits agency to prove she was in the country legally, unleashing a torrent of immigration-related problems. For the past nine months she has been left facing bankruptcy, afraid to open the front door in case it is the Home Office coming to deport her or bailiffs arriving to remove her property.

O’Connor is unable to provide documentary evidence to prove she is here legally. Without this paperwork, she has been unable to take up new work and has been refused unemployment benefits, leaving her without an income. She sold her car at the beginning of the year, but she is struggling to pay her rent and is falling further into debt.

She is one of a growing group of long-term UK residents who arrived as children from Commonwealth countries in the 1960s and are now facing complex problems as a result of the introduction by the government in 2013 of a hardline immigration policy known as “hostile environment”.

O’Connor’s difficulties emerged last summer when she lost her job in a computer shop where she had worked for 16 years. When she applied successfully for a number of new jobs, she found she was unable to take them up because they asked her for a British passport, which she does not have. When she went to the jobcentre to apply for benefits to tide her over while she tried to sort the problem out, she was told she was not eligible.

Having lived in the UK for more than half a century, attending primary and secondary school here, working continuously, paying taxes and national insurance, holding a driving licence and voting in general elections; having been married for 17 years to someone British and having had four children here (all of whom have British passports), she is puzzled as to why her immigration status is being questioned.

“It was the way they treated me because I didn’t have a British passport. I said I’ve had no reason to go out of the country so I’ve never applied for one. They made me feel like I’m not British. I came home and cried,” O’Connor said. Debt companies have written to say they will be visiting to see which of her belongings they can take away to sell at auction.

“I can’t get another job without proving I’m legal and I can’t get the documents to do that. The stress of it is making me ill. When the doorbell goes I worry if it’s not the debt enforcers it’s going to be the immigration people, telling me I don’t belong here and trying to send me back to a country I don’t know.”

Her difficulties came to light after media coverage of Paulette Wilson, who was sent to an immigration detention centre despite having been in the country for 50 years, and Albert Thompson (who has asked for his real name not to be revealed), who is currently not receiving cancer treatment after being told he would need to pay £54,000 for it, despite having lived in London for the past 44 years. Numerous other cases have emerged of people who have lost their jobs or been made homeless because they are unable to provide documentary evidence of their right to be in the UK.

O’Connor never applied for a British passport. “The furthest I’ve ever been is the Lake District. I didn’t know that I needed to have a naturalisation number; I didn’t even know what that was,” she said.

She has tried to sort out her lack of paperwork, but has been unable to pursue the first stage because it requires a £237 initial payment and the whole naturalisation process costs over £1,200 – money she does not have since she is unable to work. After O’Connor’s case was raised by the Guardian with the Home Office, an official called her on Wednesday and promised to send forms so she could apply to remain. When she said she was unable to pay the fee, another official called her back to say the fee could be waived for her.

She is bewildered by an offer of help that has come only when her case looked set to attract media attention, and she remains uncertain about whether she will be able to find enough documents to prove she has been here a lifetime. Initial attempts have proved unsuccessful. Her MP’s office contacted the Home Office on her behalf and was told: “I have searched our systems and can find no Home Office record for Ms O’Connor.”

O’Connor has contacted the National Archives to see if they can find a record of her immigration status and was told: “Unfortunately I could find no entry for your name.”

Sally Daghlian, the chief executive of Praxis Community Projects, which has supported more than 120 people in situations similar to O’Connor’s, said: “The burden of proof is astonishingly high. An individual has to produce a minimum of one but preferably four pieces of documentary evidence for every year they have been in the UK. Documents dating back decades must be sought from the tax office, DWP and other official sources. In many cases such records no longer exist.”

She said the introduction of the hostile environment was increasing the prevalence of racist decisions. “Non-immigration specialists (doctors, administrators, civil servants, landlords) are now required to check immigration status before delivering services. This inevitably leads to discriminatory requests for passports, as judgments are being made on the basis of colour, accent, ethnicity and can result in racist practices.”

In the 1970s and 80s O’Connor worked in a greengrocers and for Ford Dagenham as a cleaner, but she doesn’t have paperwork to prove it. “Wages weren’t paid straight into bank accounts then. I don’t have the payslips; I keep receipts and paper slips for six years – then I throw them away. If I didn’t the house would overflow with paperwork,” she said. “It’s so ridiculous. I see myself as British. The government was happy taking my taxes and national insurance payments for 30 years.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We understand these individuals may not have the relevant documentation to support their application, and so we work closely with applicants to consider alternative documentation to prove their ongoing residence. Those who have resided in the UK for an extended period but feel they may not have the correct documentation confirming their leave to remain should take legal advice.”

O’Connor said she was puzzled by the suggestion that she seek legal advice. “People in my situation can’t pay the fees because we’re not allowed to work. How can I get legal advice without money?”

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Theresa May refuses to intervene over man’s £54,000 NHS cancer bill

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Theresa May refuses to intervene over man’s £54,000 NHS cancer bill” was written by Amelia Gentleman, for The Guardian on Thursday 22nd March 2018 16.55 UTC

Theresa May has refused to intervene in the case of Albert Thompson, the London cancer patient asked to pay £54,000 for treatment despite having lived in the UK for 44 years, as it emerged that there could be tens of thousands of people in a similarly uncertain immigration position.

Thompson, 63, is not receiving the radiotherapy treatment he needs for prostate cancer because he has been unable to provide officials with sufficient documentary evidence showing that he has lived in the UK continuously since arriving from Jamaica as a teenager in 1973. He is unable to pay the £54,000 fee.

May said responsibility for the decision to charge Thompson ahead of treatment lay with the Royal Marsden hospital. “No urgent treatment should ever be withheld or delayed by the NHS regardless of ability of willingness to pay,” she wrote in a letter to Jeremy Corbyn, who raised the issue at prime minister’s questions last week.

Regulations introduced last October require hospitals to check patients’ paperwork, including passports and proof of address, and charge upfront for their healthcare if they do not have documentary proof of eligibility, unless the treatment is deemed to be urgent. “The decision on whether his treatment is urgent or immediately necessary must rightly be made by the clinicians treating him,” May wrote.

The Royal Marsden has repeatedly said that Thompson’s radiotherapy was not urgent. This surprises some prostate cancer specialists, who are puzzled why treatment prescribed for cancer can subsequently be deemed non-urgent, once the question of ability to pay is raised.

Despite sympathising with “Mr Thompson and the worries he will be facing given his condition”, the prime minister said he needed to “evidence his settled status” in the UK.

Thompson – who has asked for his real name not to be used – is one of a growing group of long-term UK residents facing life-shattering problems as a result of the government’s hostile immigration environment, which has been particularly affecting people who arrived as children from Commonwealth countries.

Research released this week by academics at the University of Oxford-based Migration Observatory suggests that there could be up to 57,000 people potentially vulnerable to similar problems, because although they arrived from Commonwealth countries before 1971, they have never applied for a British passport or been naturalised. Their difficulties are only beginning to emerge now as the government’s tightened immigration regime inadvertently hits the wrong targets.

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory, said: “This is an estimate of the population who arrived before 1971 but have not naturalised. It won’t be the case that all 57,000 can’t prove their legal status; we don’t know what share of them have problems with their paperwork and what proportion have everything in order. This is the maximum size of the population who are potentially at risk.”

Paulette Wilson
Paulette Wilson.
Photograph: Fabio De Paola/The Guardian

Thompson’s problems echo those experienced by Paulette Wilson, who was sent last year to an immigration detention centre and threatened with deportation to Jamaica, despite having been in Britain for 50 years. The Guardian has highlighted the cases of numerous other people who have lost their jobs or been made homeless because they are unable to prove they are in the UK legally, despite having lived in the country for over half a century.

Thompson’s lawyer Jeremy Bloom, at Duncan Lewis, said: “The application that Mr Thompson needs to make to regularise his stay is complex and requires a great deal of supporting evidence. Meanwhile, Mr Thompson is being refused potentially life-saving treatment unless he can pay for it. Theresa May does not appear to place much value on the contribution that Mr Thompson has made to the UK since 1973.”

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, highlighted news this week that the Royal Marsden foundation trust predicted it would receive an income of £210m over two years from providing private healthcare. “It’s astonishing that this man still hasn’t been able to access the treatment he needs. This is a trust which is making hundreds of millions from private patients, yet seemingly refusing to provide urgent cancer care,” he said.

A spokesperson for the the Royal Marsden said a cancer specialist would contact Thompson to discuss his treatment while he attempted to get his papers in order. Profits from private treatment were “ploughed back into the NHS for the benefit of our patients” and this had nothing to do with the the trust’s “legal obligation to check eligibility for access to NHS care”, the spokesperson said.

“It is disappointing that NHS staff, who are committed to public service, should be criticised for being professional and fair in applying the principles required of them on eligibility.”

Thompson, who worked as a mechanic and paid taxes for three decades before he became ill, has never applied for a British passport because he thought he had no need to; the Jamaican passport he arrived with was lost many years ago. He has also struggled to prove his eligibility for housing support and is currently living in a hostel. Over 87,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to give him treatment.

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Corbyn writes to May about man’s £54,000 NHS cancer bill

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Corbyn writes to May about man’s £54,000 NHS cancer bill” was written by Amelia Gentleman, for The Guardian on Sunday 18th March 2018 17.52 UTC

Jeremy Corbyn has written to Theresa May about Londoner Albert Thompson’s £54,000 bill for cancer treatment, saying the government risks allowing a patient to die because of difficulties proving immigration status.

Thompson, 63, who has lived continuously in the UK for 44 years since arriving from Jamaica as a teenager in 1973, is not receiving the radiotherapy he needs for prostate cancer because the London hospital where he was due to start treatment last November told him he needed to provide proof of residency or pay upfront for his care.

He was unable to supply officials with required documents, so he was told he needed to find £54,000. Thompson, who has asked for his real name not to be used, is increasingly worried about the potential impact on his health of the delay of more than four months. The Labour leader called on ministers to “intervene immediately in his case to ensure that this man gets access to the care that he needs”.

Corbyn said Thompson’s situation was not unique and he was dealing with a similar case in his constituency, which he had also raised with the Home Office. He said the cases were a direct result of new regulations introduced last October requiring hospital departments and community health services to check every patient’s paperwork, including passports and proof of address, and charge upfront for their healthcare if they did not have documentary proof of eligibility.

The case raised the prospect that many undocumented British citizens were being denied free NHS treatment, and that the principle of the universal NHS, free at the point of need, was being eroded, he wrote.

“Every patient, including British citizens, can be asked about their residency status and made to prove they are entitled to free NHS care,” he said. He quoted concerns raised by the shadow spokesperson for health and social care, Philip Hunt, who said in the Lords last year that, as a result of the new regulations, “many people who legitimately live here and have every right to NHS treatment are going to be challenged by the NHS”.

Thompson, who worked as a mechanic before he became ill, has never applied for a British passport because he had no need to, but the Jamaican passport he arrived with was lost many years ago. In the tightened hostile immigration environment, launched by Theresa May in 2013, he has struggled to prove his eligibility for housing support and free healthcare.

A spokesperson for the hospital said Thompson “continues to be treated by his GP as directed by the cancer specialist. His radiotherapy is not urgent. We are very sorry this has caused Mr Thompson distress and uncertainty and are working hard to try to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

Thompson said he had not seen a GP about his prostate cancer treatment since early last year.

Doctors have expressed confusion at the decision to classify the radiotherapy as non-urgent. Joe Rylands, a spokesperson for Docs Not Cops, a group of healthcare professionals campaigning to protect free access to healthcare for all people, said: “I cannot foresee any circumstances whereby a patient has been deemed to need ‘discretionary’ radiotherapy for prostate cancer. Either they need it by team decision, when it is potentially life-saving, or they don’t. To withdraw it on the basis of nationality appears unethical and incompatible with the principles of the NHS.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said the prime minister had received the letter and would respond in due course. A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our guidance makes clear that urgent and immediately necessary care should never be withheld or delayed.”

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UK child deportations of 50s: ‘most catastrophic child abuse’ in memory

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “UK child deportations of 50s: ‘most catastrophic child abuse’ in memory” was written by Sandra Laville, for theguardian.com on Thursday 9th March 2017 15.54 UTC

The deportation of thousands of British children to Australia, Canada and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), created the most catastrophic child abuse legacy in living memory, the national inquiry into child sexual abuse has been told.

The author and social worker Margaret Humphreys, who exposed the scale and suffering of tens of thousands of British children taken from families under the child migrant scheme – a policy that relocated children to areas of the Commonwealth, from the 40s to the 70s – said the physical and sexual abuse, conditions of slavery and terror, removal of identities, and lies that suggested the youngsters’ parents were dead, amounted to a catalogue of crimes against the children.

“These are human rights violations,” she said. There had been collusion and cover-up by the institutions and agencies, who had kidnapped the children and put them into the hands of paedophiles. In a form of secondary abuse the same institutions who had taken the youngsters away had, in some cases, reacted with hostility when the grown-up children returned to find their families.

The removal of the identity of each child, and the fact that the children were taken so far away from anyone they knew and told they were orphans, aided the abuse, Humphreys said.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA ), in full public hearings, is investigating the sexual abuse of children who were removed from British institutions and families between 1947 and the 70s, and taken to Australia and Canada by various charities and churches, including Barnardos, the Fairbridge Society, and the Sisters of Nazareth.

The children, once abroad, were kept in farm schools, where they suffered brutality and sexual abuse, were used as slave labour and deprived of a proper education.

“The perpetrators knew there was no one for the children to turn to,” said Humphreys. “No one was going to visit them at weekends, no one was going to send them Christmas cards, and no one was going to celebrate their birthdays. So for the paedophiles this was a group of children where no one asked what was happening to them, and no one cared.”

Humphreys, who set up the Child Migrants Trust in 1987 has done more than any other individual to expose the way British children were taken from families and deported. In the last 25 years she has reunited more than a 1,000 individuals with their families in the UK.

Humphries said deported British children suffered the “greatest betrayal” because they were told their parents were dead when they were not. When she began helping individuals to find their families she started by looking for death certificates.

“In the early days people would write to me and say, ‘my parents have died, I am an orphan please help me find my family’. I spent a very, very, long time looking for death certificates of parents and of course there were no death certificates because they weren’t dead.”

Telling the children they were orphans, she said, took away all hope that anyone would come and get them, and stopped them asking questions.

Humphreys met one mother who told how she would visit her son every week in a children’s home in Liverpool. “She told me she went to see her child regularly every Saturday in the children’s home, she used to go with sweets. But on this particular Saturday she went and no children were there … someone told her they had gone to Australia.”

She found out they had left just one and a half hours before her arrival. She managed to get to Lime Street railway station as the train carrying the children was pulling away. “She ran on to the platform and saw the children on the train … she was screaming and crying, ‘get the children off, stop the train’. Her boy put his face to the window and shouted, ‘I’ll never forget you mum.’”

When Humphreys later traced other children who had been deported with the boy, they described seeing a woman running and screaming on the platform as the train pulled away. When the boy arrived in Australia he was told his mother had died in the war. But he knew that was wrong.

It took Humphreys and the Child Migrant trust a month to find the mother after the former child migrant, as an adult, turned to her for help.

“So all of those years, when he was growing up, when he was an adult, when he was getting married, having children, she was there all the time – but missing from his life.”

The IICSA inquiry continues.

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26 January: Clashes between police and protesters at Australia Day rally – as it happened

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “26 January: Clashes between police and protesters at Australia Day rally – as it happened” was written by Helen Davidson (now), Christopher Knaus (earlier), Paul Farrell (earlier), Elle Hunt (earlier) and Calla Wahlquist (earlier), for theguardian.com on Thursday 26th January 2017 07.02 UTC

7.02am GMT

This is where I’ll leave the blog. Thanks for joining me for the final hours, and enjoy your afternoons. Before I go, a quick check in at Waneroo.

The Perth suburb has today hosted Australia’s largest citizenship ceremony for the fourth year in a row, with 800 residents from 49 countries becoming citizens.

Here’s the Chambers family, who arrived from Wales 10 years ago.

The Chambers family, who arrived in Perth from Wales ten years ago, are seen after becoming citizens during an Australia Day citizenship ceremony in the city of Waneroo, in Perth’s north, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017.
The Chambers family, who arrived in Perth from Wales ten years ago, are seen after becoming citizens during an Australia Day citizenship ceremony in the city of Waneroo, in Perth’s north, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. Photograph: Rebecca Le May/AAP

On the right is Waneroo councillor, Hugh Nguyen, attending the citizenship ceremony.

City of Wanneroo councillor Hugh Nguyen (right) is seen during an Australia Day citizenship ceremony in the city of Waneroo, in Perth’s north, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. In total in WA, 2744 people became citizens on Thursday, with the top five countries of origin being the UK, South Africa, India, Ireland and the Philippines.
City of Wanneroo councillor Hugh Nguyen (right) is seen during an Australia Day citizenship ceremony in the city of Waneroo, in Perth’s north, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. In total in WA, 2744 people became citizens on Thursday, with the top five countries of origin being the UK, South Africa, India, Ireland and the Philippines. Photograph: Rebecca Le May/AAP

Agam Benipal’s parents, Preet and Harman, moved to Perth from India. They were all at Waneroo’s citizenship ceremony today.

Baby Agam Benipal, whose parents Preet and Harman moved to Perth from India, is seen during an Australia Day citizenship ceremony in the city of Waneroo, in Perth’s north, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. Wanneroo has hosted Australia’s largest citizenship ceremony for the fourth year running, with 800 residents from 49 countries becoming citizens. In total in WA, 2744 people became citizens on Thursday, with the top five countries of origin being the UK, South Africa, India, Ireland and the Philippines.
Baby Agam Benipal, whose parents Preet and Harman moved to Perth from India, is seen during an Australia Day citizenship ceremony in the city of Waneroo, in Perth’s north, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. Wanneroo has hosted Australia’s largest citizenship ceremony for the fourth year running, with 800 residents from 49 countries becoming citizens. In total in WA, 2744 people became citizens on Thursday, with the top five countries of origin being the UK, South Africa, India, Ireland and the Philippines. Photograph: Rebecca Le May/AAP

6.58am GMT

Hottest 100: #40-31

This is the final Hottest 100 update on the blog today. We won’t be counting down the final 30 as the blog is about to close, but you can follow it on triple j’s website and stay tuned for our analysis in the morning

A fairly dude-heavy batch of songs brings us to the top 30 of this year’s poll, with two songs in a row from Brisbane band Dune Rats at #33 and #34, and the second spot for Sticky Fingers, who went on indefinite hiatus in December after a controversial year.

Of the 70 songs so far, only 15 have been performed by bands that feature women or by female solo artists, and seven more have featured women as vocalists. But there are a few more women expected to place higher than usual in the top ten this year.

One of them is self-taught 21-year-old Tash Sultana, who has just made her Hottest 100 debut with Notion at #32. But it’s her track Jungle, built around loop pedals and her powerful voice, which is expected to get her into the top ten. The video has been viewed over 1 million times.

Here’s #40-31:

#40: Kid Cudi – Surfin (Ft. Pharrell Williams)

#39: DMA’s – Step Up The Morphine

#38: Glass Animals – Youth

#37: Flume – Smoke & Retribution (Ft. Vince Staples/Kucka)

#36: Sticky Fingers – Sad Songs

#35: Client Liaison – World of our Love

#34: Dune Rats – Scott Green

#33: Dune Rats – Bullshit

#32: Tash Sultana – Notion

#31: Drake – One Dance (Ft. Wizkid/Kyla)

Updated at 6.58am GMT

6.40am GMT

June Mills, Larrakia elder,
June Mills says Australia’s national day should be celebrated on 3 June, the date the principle of terra nullius was overturned. Photograph: Jonny Weeks/The Guardian

This afternoon I sat down in Darwin, on Larrakia land, with Larrakia elder June Mills. She says changing the date is not enough.

“But it is a start of reality.

“If I was going to change the date it would be June the 3rd, which is the day when terra nullius was struck down. That’s a day worth celebrating. Because all the lies we’ve suffered from begin with terra nullius – that this was nobody’s land – which was a doozy.

“To me that’s the day, I know there are a lot of days being put up but to me that’s the day, when we smashed the lie that has been killing our people.”

But Mills recognised there was not majority support for changing the day yet, and said people weren’t going to go along with it until they were educated about Australia’s history and the impact it still had on Indigenous people and communities.

“People don’t know. But we’re only 3% of the population, we can’t do this job. It’s up to the government to really show leadership and sincerity, honesty about the reality of this country and tell the truth, put it in the schools. It’s not going to happen without education.”

Mills said there wouldn’t be enthusiasm about Australia Day from Indigenous people until this happened.

June Mills, Larrakia elder, in Darwin.
June Mills, Larrakia elder, in Darwin. Photograph: Jonny Weeks/The Guardian

Updated at 6.53am GMT

6.26am GMT

The newly appointed New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, would like people to not debate changing Australia Day on Australia Day.

Speaking to reporters after police and protesters clashed at the Invasion Day march in Sydney, Berejiklian said the violence was “disappointing”, and that while everyone had a right to protest, Australia Day was about unity.

“I’m so disappointed people couldn’t express themselves in a more appropriate way on such an important day,” she said.

AAP reported Berejiklian said there were 364 other days of the year to debate changing Australia’s national day.

It seems people were not listening, though.

The number of tweets mentioning #ChangeTheDate has grown 850% since 2016.

The number of Tweets using #InvasionDay grew 200% from 2014-2017.

The number of Tweets using #SurvivalDay grew 200% from 2014-2017.

Updated at 6.43am GMT

6.12am GMT

Belief is a thing you have when you don’t have actual facts.

If only there were some facts around for Pauline Hanson.

6.02am GMT

Hottest 100: #50-41

Violent Soho have become the first act to ever get four songs in the first half of the Hottest 100 countdown, and the Amity Affliction are still sitting pretty with three apiece. Safia, Dope Lemon, the Avalanches, DD Dumbo and Frank Ocean each have two. Like a Version has gotten a fairly good look-in so far too, with covers by Paces, Halsey and AB Original making the list.

The Indigenous hip-hop duo of Briggs and Trials, AB Original are expected to feature again later today, tipped for quite a high listing for their Australia Day protest track January 26, featuring Dan Sultan.

Late last year, as pressure mounted on Triple J to move the Hottest 100 to a date that was less divisive and offensive to Indigenous Australia, a Facebook page began circulating encouraging listeners to vote for the track in solidarity. It’ll be interesting to see how high the song places this year.

In other news, this could be one of the most commercially viable Hottest 100s of all time, with Beyoncé, Rihanna, Drake, Guy Sebastian and Kanye West all featuring so far – and a Justin Bieber cover thrown in to boot.

Here’s #50-41 – featuring Paul Kelly’s Hottest 100 comeback, after a break of 16 years.

#50: Gang of Youths – Strange Diseases

#49: Hilltop Hoods – Higher (Ft. James Chatburn)

#48: Kingswood – Creepin

#47: D.D Dumbo – Walrus

#46: Mac Miller – Dang! (Ft. Anderson .Paak)

#45: A.B. Original – Dumb Things (Ft. Paul Kelly/Dan Sultan)

#44: D.D Dumbo – Satan

#43: MØ – Final Song

#42: Broods – Heartlines

#41: The Weeknd – I Feel It Coming (Ft. Daft Punk)

Updated at 6.06am GMT

5.41am GMT

Good afternoon everyone, this is Helen Davidson checking in to take you through the rest of the afternoon.

I hope you have spent your day well, and if you’ve been somewhere a little out of the ordinary please share your pics on Twitter (@heldavidson).

In the mean time, down on Sydney’s famous Bondi beach, some lifeguards are having official pillow fights, which to be fair makes way less sense than the Darwin Ute Run which Guardian Australia’s Paul Farrell was so rude about earlier today.

Lifeguards on Bondi beach take part in a pillow fight challenge.
Lifeguards on Bondi beach take part in a pillow fight challenge. Photograph: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

And then at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Rebecca Matthews rugs up.

Rebecca Matthews from Lithgow poses for a photograph on Australia Day, at the Tamworth campgrounds, during the Tamworth Country Music Festival, in Tamworth, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017.
Rebecca Matthews from Lithgow poses for a photograph on Australia Day at the Tamworth campgrounds during the Tamworth country music festival. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

At the Australian Open in Melbourne people are sportingly patriotic as other people play tennis. Guardian mate Russell Jackson has filed this report on how the tennis is going.

Tennis fans arrive at Melbourne Park for the Australian Open on Thursday.
Tennis fans arrive at Melbourne Park for the Australian Open on Thursday. Photograph: Julian Smith/AAP

Updated at 5.44am GMT

5.19am GMT

That’s all from me on the live blog today. Stay with reporter Helen Davidson as she continues our coverage of Australia Day celebrations and protests, and the pointy end of the Hottest 100.

5.13am GMT

Hottest 100 halftime – the gender count so far

For the past few years, the Hottest 100 has been the springboard for an ongoing debate about gender and Triple J, with women vastly under-represented in the national poll and on the station’s playlist more broadly. In last year’s poll, the only women who made the top 10 were featured vocalists, and only 24 songs were by women – with four of them by Courtney Barnett. In 2014, of the 273 musicians featured in the countdown, only 34 were women.

As Erin Riley pointed out on Twitter and in a subsequent piece for Guardian Australia, in the history of the Hottest 100, more men from St Kevin’s College had won the poll than women.

This year could be different. Although no women featured in the top 10 of the station’s 2016 album poll, women are expected to make a much stronger showing in this year’s Hottest 100, with Amy Shark and Tash Sultana both predicted for the top 5 – and Shark has a chance at the #1 spot.

Amy Shark, Tash Sultana andJessica Cerro (AKA Montaigne
(L-R) Amy Shark, Tash Sultana andJessica Cerro (AKA Montaigne) are all expected to score high in the Triple J Hottest 100. Composite: PR Company Handouts

But we’ve been tallying the women count so far, and of the 50 songs that make up the first half of the poll, only 12 are performed by women artists or bands which feature women, with a further five featuring women vocalists.

Here’s #60-51. For the rest, click on this.

#60: Sofi Tukker – Drinkee

#59: Frank Ocean – Solo

#58: Ali Barter – Girlie Bits

#57: Catfish and the Bottlemen – Twice

#56: Paces – Keeping Score (Ft. Guy Sebastian) (Like A Version)

#55: Rufus – Say a Prayer for me

#54: Blink-182 – Bored To Death

#53: Violent Soho – Blanket

#52: Halsey – Love Yourself (Like A Version)

#51: Sticky Fingers – Outcast At Last

Read Erin Riley’s piece on gender, privilege and the Hottest 100:

Updated at 5.21am GMT

5.12am GMT

We’ve got a bit more detail to hand about the scuffle between protesters and police at the Sydney Invasion Day march earlier today. The clashes reportedly began after protesters attempted to burn a flag. Police say they tried to extinguish the flames.

Footage shows police officers and protesters shoving each other. Police later arrested a 20-year-old man and took him to Redfern police station, while a police officer and a woman were injured and taken to hospital.

5.03am GMT

Martin Parkinson, the nation’s most senior public servant, was made a companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to the community. My colleague Gareth Hutchens has this story on Parkinson, his career, his push to modernise the economy, and his warning that young Australian adults could be the first generation in modern history with living standards below those of their parents.

4.56am GMT

Reporter Paul Karp has filed this story on deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce’s comments on the Australia Day protests. Joyce said he was tired of people “weeping” about Australia Day when they lived in a nation that was democratic, has free education, basic free health, is well defended, and that looks after its poor.

Joyce had this to say about the protesters:

Today is a day about celebration. I’m just sick of these people who every time they want to make us feel guilty about it. They don’t like Christmas, they don’t like Australia Day, they’re just miserable … and I wish they’d crawl under a rock and hide for a little bit.

Updated at 5.00am GMT

4.45am GMT

The large Captain Cook statue in Cairns was redecorated for a short time this morning. It comes after a recent proposal by local Indigenous artist, Norman Miller, for a giant boomerang to be constructed and placed in the statue’s hand, according to the Cairns Post.

Updated at 4.56am GMT

4.33am GMT

At the speakout tent at Yabun festival, Rhoda Roberts – head of Indigenous programming at the Sydney Opera House – introduced Bruce Pascoe, author of Dark Emu: a book that challenges the understanding that precolonial Aboriginal Australians were hunter-gatherers who lived off the land.

Pascoe said this had been taught to suit European settlers’ purposes. Indigenous people’s perspectives were not heard in public discourse, said Roberts, “unless it’s something specific that’s about land rights”.

Asked why his and other Aboriginal people’s viewpoints were not sought on other issues relating to land management, such as climate change, Pascoe said:

“Because it takes a long time to unlearn 220 years of bullshit.

“Because everyone, including me went to school and learned that Aboriginal people were wanderers of the Earth, children of nature … The reason for that wasn’t because it was true but because the Europeans needed to tell that story, to justify taking the land.”

In Dark Emu, Pascoe writes that precolonial Aboriginal people across Australia were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – all of which are inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag.

He told the sizeable crowd that the curriculum and the “kind of nonsense” taught in schools had not changed to reflect this new information.

Updated at 4.35am GMT

4.24am GMT

Hottest 100 catch-up time!

We’re 40 songs in and there’s been a few noteworthy placements so far. Violent Soho have scored three listings, at #93, #73 and #69. So have Australian metalcore act Amity Affliction at #76, #67 and #65 – with the latter following on from Beyoncé’s Hottest 100 debut for Hold Up, making for a particularly abrasive genre transition.

Glass Animals, Safia, Angus Stone’s new project Dope Lemon and the Avalanches have had two entries apiece, with Drake (featuring Rihanna), Kanye West, Radiohead, Empire of the Sun and Frank Ocean also appearing.

Flume has had his first showing at #95 – but it certainly won’t be his last, with the Sydney producer expected by many to win for his track Never Be Like You.

The countdown so far:

#100: Birds of Tokyo – Brace

#99: Drake – Too Good (Ft. Rihanna)

#98: Glass Animals – Season 2 Episode 3

#97: Alex Lahey – You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me

#96: Elk Road – Hanging By A Thread (Ft. Natalie Foster)

#95: Flume – Lose It (Ft. Vic Mensa)

#94: Vallis Alps – Fading

#93: Empire of the Sun – High and Low

#92: Violent Soho – How to Taste

#91: The Avalanches – Subways

#90: Luca Brasi – Anything Near Conviction

#89: Safia – Over You

#88: Childish Gambino – Me and Your Mama

#87: Dope Lemon – Uptown Folks

#86: Bliss N Eso – Dopamine (Ft. Thief)

#85: Safia – My Love Is Gone

#84: Frank Ocean – Pink + White

#83: Tkay Maidza – Simulation

#82: Thundamentals – Think About It (Ft. Peta & The Wolves)

#81: Desiigner – Panda

#80: Banks – Gemini Feed

#79: Radiohead – Burn The Witch

#78: Vera Blue – Settle

#77: Catfish & The Bottlemen – Soundcheck

#76: The Amity Affliction – This Could Be Heartbreak

#75: The Avalanches – Because I’m Me

#74: Camp Cope – Lost: Season One

#73: Violent Soho – No Shade

#72: Kanye West – Famous

#71: Broods – Free

#70: Golden Features – Wolfie (Ft. Julia Stone)

#69: Violent Soho – So Sentimental

#68: L D R U – Next To You (Ft. Savoi)

#67: The Amity Affliction – I Bring The Weather With Me

#66: Beyoncé – Hold Up

#65: The Amity Affliction – All Fucked Up

#64: Maggie Rogers – Alaska

#63: Glass Animals – Life Itself

#62: Dope Lemon – Marinade

#61: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Gamma Knife

Updated at 5.33am GMT

4.21am GMT

This can only end well.

Picture of group on makeshift raft.
A group of people float on a makeshift raft as they celebrate Australia Day along the Yarra River in Melbourne. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

Updated at 4.29am GMT

4.14am GMT

The crowds, and the flags, were out in force for Melbourne’s Australia Day parade on Swanston Street. The parade is a warming display of Australia’s cultural diversity. Participants from more than 90 community and cultural groups were involved.

Images of Melbourne’s Australia Day parade on Swanston Street.
Images of Melbourne’s Australia Day parade on Swanston Street.
Images of Melbourne’s Australia Day parade on Swanston Street.
Images of Melbourne’s Australia Day parade on Swanston Street.

4.04am GMT

Beyoncé has made her Triple J Hottest 100 debut at #66 with Hold Up, the third single off her game-changing sixth record Lemonade. The visual album, released with an accompanying film of clips, is jam-packed with discourse on race, gender and infidelity, and was lauded by the Guardian as the best album of 2016.

After the Taylor Swift/Hottest 100 furore of 2015, Triple J’s decision to add Beyoncé’s album to high rotation was a controversial one, which led to six songs being up for nomination in this year’s poll.

Triple J listeners are reacting as expected: split right down the middle.

Read Observer pop critic Kitty Empire’s review of Lemonade here:

Updated at 4.20am GMT

4.02am GMT

Our photographer Jonny Weeks is in the Top End, and took these shots of the Darwin ute muster at the Hidden Valley Drag Strip.