Only doing my job ma’am: A minder hauls Gillard from the danger zone of Aboriginal protesters

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard clung to her bodyguard as she was dragged to safety through a crowd of angry protesters in Canberra yesterday.

Riot police formed a shield around the prime minister as they helped her force a path through the protesters who surrounded a restaurant where she was attending an awards ceremony to mark Australia Day.

Miss Gillard stumbled after losing a shoe in the scuffle, but was caught by her personal security guard and managed to get into a waiting car.

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Extraordinary scenes: Julia Gillard clings to her bodyguard as she is half-carried away from protesters in Canberra yesterday

Chaotic: Miss Gillard stumbles and loses a shoe in the scuffle, but is caught by her personal security guard

Scramble: Riot police help her force a path through a crowd of rowdy protesters following a ceremony to mark Australia Day

Heading to safety: Dozens of extra police were called and after 20 minutes they escorted Miss Gillard from the building to an awaiting car

The protests appear to have been aimed primarily at opposition leader Tony Abbott, who was also in the building when some 200 demonstrators began banging on its windows, shouting ‘shame’ and ‘racist’.

Mr Abbott had angered activists earlier in the day by saying it was time the nearby Aboriginal Tent Embassy ‘moved on’.

Taking no risks: A protester stands in front of policemen in Canberra as thousands of indigenous Australians gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy

Protest centre: The Aboriginal Tent Embassy, a collection of shelters on the lawns at Parliament House in Canberra, is celebrating its 40th anniversary

Hitting the beach: Australian women take advantage of a public holiday

The embassy, a ramshackle collection of tents and shelters on the lawn of Parliament House, is at the centre of the campaign for Aboriginal sovereignty and land rights.

Demonstrators had gathered to celebrate its 40th anniversary when they heard that Mr Abbott was nearby.

Miss Gillard and Mr Abbott had been handing out inaugural National Emergency Medals, presented as the country marked Australia Day.

Dozens of extra police were called to the scene and escorted them from the building after 20 minutes.

Miss Gillard was unharmed and hosted another Australia Day function at her official residence in Canberra after the incident.

Australia Day marks the arrival of the first fleet of British colonists in Sydney on January 26, 1788.

Many Aborigines call it Invasion Day because the land was settled without a treaty with traditional owners.

There have also been suggestions that the day be moved because it currently falls during school holidays.

A different date would allow greater participation in the event among children.

The first celebration was held in 1818, marking the creation of New South Wales.

Another way to celebrate: Swimmers are seen competing in the Great Aussie Swim as part of the Australia Day festivities in Sydney Harbour

Celebrations: A cruise ship sporting a large national flag sails past in Sydney to celebrate Australia Day

Australia Day: A flotilla of boats pass the Opera House during the annual ferry boat procession in celebration of the annual event