New Year’s Australia Day suggestion

New Year’s Australia Day suggestion

Armadale mayor Henry Zelones with Mort and Vivienne Hansen and Member for Burt Matt Keogh.

New Years Day is the date Armadale woman Vivienne Hansen thinks Australia Day should be celebrated.

The published author and former City of Armadale Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee chair called for change during an Aboriginal flag raising with Member for Burt Matt Keogh this month.

Ms Hansen, a Nyoongar woman, said January 1, the date of Australian federation, made more sense as the date to commemorate the nation.

She said she believed the current date was arbitrary because January 26 only became a holiday a quarter century ago.

“We want to celebrate Australia Day because we are all Australians, but I think there is a better date to celebrate all cultures,” she said.

While celebrations of the founding of New South Wales date back to January 1818, it was not until 1915 that nation-wide celebrations for Australia Day began.

That year it was held on July 30, and it continued to be celebrated on different dates throughout WWI: July 28 in 1916; July 27 in 1917 (and in August in South Australia); and on July 26 in 1918 – all Fridays.

Ms Hansen said commemorating the January date Britain claimed eastern Australia for itself had negative connotations for Aboriginal Australian people, and was not relevant to West Australians given the Swan River Colony was not founded until 40 years later.

She said she hoped all levels of government in the Armadale region would get involved in a discussion for change.

“I would like to think they would take on board what we’re saying and stand up in parliament or in council,” she said.

Since 2017 several councils across Australia, including the City of Fremantle, have supported the #changethedate activist movement and have celebrated Australia Day on alternate dates.

With the City of Cockburn currently investigating the issue, Ms Hansen said times were changing.

“If the City of Fremantle can do it, then the City of Armadale can do it,” she said.