Australian Flag.
Australian Flag. Tom Huntley

Australia Day shifted to January 28 by WA council

IT marks the day the first fleet arrived on Australian shores.

On January 26, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip raised the Union Jack at Sydney Cove.

But is that the right day for Australians to celebrate?

Everything that has become modern Australia since then has followed that day -- the achievements, mistakes, joys and horrors.

For many it is a day for Australians to come together as one to celebrate and acknowledge where we have come from, where we are, and where we are going.

For others it is a divisive day, one that minimises the trauma, cruelty and death inflicted on Australia's Indigenous from that day forward.

Families who still remember - whether through stories or from those who experienced it - will find no easy joy in the day.

In the West Australian city of Fremantle, the questions over Australia Day have prompted action.

Its national celebrations will now be held on January 28 in an effort to be "culturally inclusive" under the banner of "One Day".

A flyer for Fremantle's One Day event, scheduled for January 28 (not 26).
A flyer for Fremantle's One Day event, scheduled for January 28 (not 26).

The council's website states it is not opposed to celebrations on January 26, but has opted to have its celebrations on a different date. Fireworks on the day in line with the council's "cultural awareness".

It plans to decide on a date for future Australia Day celebrations, but January 28 is not necessarily set in stone.

Musician John Butler said he was "honoured and privileged" to be involved.

"I really commend the City of Fremantle for their vision to create a space and a moment that is culturally sensitive and inclusive," he said.

"A day in which all Australians can happily celebrate and invest in."

Fremantle mayor Dr Brad Pettitt said the event was "for all Australians to unite and celebrate on one day".

The council has also addressed "frequently asked questions" about the day.

Check them out below:


Does the move away from Australia Day celebrations on 26 January break family traditions and take political correctness too far?

The City of Fremantle is not opposed to celebrations on 26 January for those who so choose - rather, we are offering an opportunity for all Australians to come together on another day.

What is wrong with celebrating on January 26?

Everyone should celebrate when they feel it is appropriate, however the City of Fremantle wanted to celebrate being Australian in a way that included all Australians and we believe moving away from this date was more culturally inclusive and more in line with Fremantle's values

My ancestors came out on those first boats, isn't changing the date an insult to my family?

Not at all - all of our ancestors and new immigrants have played a part in shaping Australia as it is today and we value every contribution, which includes acknowledging that 26 January may not have the same implication for all Australians.

Has the fireworks event been cancelled because of cost as opposed to reconciliation?

The decision to move away from the fireworks event is in line with the City of Fremantle's approach to cultural awareness. The fireworks celebration was only a relatively recent inclusion on Australia Day and one which the City has been determined to change in favour of an event that is more inclusive for all.

I'm proud of my country and proud of being Australian and I've always celebrated Australia on 26 January- why should I have to change?

You don't have to change. We are also proud to be Australian that is why we want to encourage everyone to consider why we celebrate and what we are celebrating; ultimately we want people to make their own decision and celebrate when they feel comfortable.

Will Fremantle always celebrate on January 28 now?

The City of Fremantle will select a date in future years that is the most suitable for our community - we are not fixed on 28 January as the date.

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