Inclusive Celebrations for Australia Day

As a young and proud Nyikina Aboriginal woman I can assure you this is a very confusing time of year for myself and others.

I have a very mixed ranged of emotions when it comes to ‘Australia Day’ and how I should be spending it. One side of me knows this day marks over two-hundred years of suffering and systemic oppression for my people; the other side of me is proud to be part of the oldest living culture who have showed resilience and strength since colonisation.

For myself I struggle seeing stores become flooded with Australian Flags, I feel as though my people and my culture are not represented or included and it divides me in two. I wish to celebrate this beautiful and diverse country I live in, but I believe my people and my culture should be at the centre of this celebration.

In attempt to combat my conflicting emotions I have put together a list of events both leading up to and on Australia Day that celebrate both Aboriginal culture as well as the bright and inclusive future of our country.

Summer Salon 2021

Art by Athena Nangala, Granites

Running from the 20th until the 24th of January is ‘Summer Salon 2021’, an annual showcase bought to you by Artitja Fine Art Gallery. The showcase includes painting and sculptures sources from twenty Aboriginal remote communities. With art ranging from emerging to well established artists there is plenty to see, while ensuring all royalties are paid directly to the artists. Located in South Fremantle and open from 10am till 4pm this free exhibition is a great way to celebrate and experience Aboriginal culture through art.

Ngaalang Moort – Noongar Lullabies from Home

Art by Yabini Kickett

It is no secret that 2020 really changed our lives and how we do things, however this did not stop the Community Arts Network (CAN) in creating something beautiful for us. During isolation facilitators Charmaine Councillor and Phil Bartlett had participants record lullabies they had written and sung in Noongar language at home turned into an album. On January 22nd at 5pm at the Fremantle Arts Centre you have a chance to listen to this beautiful and culturally rich album. The songs were created to reflect and celebrate moort (family), Koort (heart) and, Woonya (love).

City Of Perth Australia Day Festival

Photo by @jessicaoudphtography

Perth City have put together a five-day festival that celebrates taking the time to Reflect, Respect and Celebrate the unique and diverse country we call home. The festival runs from the 22nd of January through to the 26th. There are a number of different activities and shows over the five-days, some of which celebrate Aboriginal culture.

Each night there is a free light and water show ‘Shining the Light: The Story of Us’, located in Elizabeth Quay with two sessions (7.45pm – 8.45pm and 9pm – 10pm) the show is made up of two parts. The first ‘Shining the Light: Yarning Together’ is a water projection showcase that tells the story of the Whadjuk Noongar people’s dreamtime creation. During this part you will also get to hear from Noongar Elders and their stories on resilience as well as their hopes for a bright and inclusive future for Australia. The second part of this show is an immersive light show, with both live performance and art sharing different stories of Australia.

Mooditj Bridyas – Solid Bosses is a photographic commission honouring the City of Perth Elder Advisory Group. Located on St Georges Terrace in Perth City this exhibition is open 9am until 5pm Monday through toil Friday. This free event includes both portraits and the oral stories of the ten respected Whadjuk Noongar Elders who form the Elders Advosry Group, formed in 2018 this group aims to guide Perth City towards a respectful and inclusive future.

Friday the 22nd at Yagan Square 5.30pm there is the opportunity to witness the oldest living culture. Through traditional Noongar song and dance stories from throughout Aboriginal history will be shared.

The Ngangk Wirdiny: Birak Bonar concert will be taking place at 4pm till 7.30pm on the corner of James and William street in Perth on Sunday the 24th. The sunset concert includes a number of acts from Noongar Bibbulman singers, bands, artists, poets, and dancers. Make sure you bring along a picnic to enjoy the show!

This may be a time of great celebration for you, or a time of great sorrow, either way I hope everyone can find the time to learn about other cultures and respect one another.