Fremantle Town Council took the brave decision last year to move Australia Day celebrations to Saturday, January 28.
The mayor was moved by how the local Indigenous community felt about commemorating the start of colonisation.
The Council stood firm with their decision, despite significant opposition from many quarters.
Three Melbourne councils – Moreland, Darebin and Yarra – have followed suit this year by not celebrating on January 26.
Twenty-four years ago, the Fremantle Council also led Australia by being the first to fly the Aboriginal flag on a public building.
I flew to Perth last year to support what Fremantle Council called ‘One Day in Fremantle’.
It started with several hundred people attending a smoking ceremony at a site where thousands of indigenous people had been imprisoned and died at the beginning of colonisation.
People from all over Australia attended, including a mob from Musgrave Park, Brisbane.
Then over 15,000 people – mainly families – packed Fremantle Esplanade to enjoy various art workshops and activities.
The day ended with John Butler, Dan Sultan and Mama Kin performing. The whole day went without a hitch.
Fremantle are repeating it this coming January 28. Communities from around Australia will either travel to be a part of it and/or establish their own celebrations on the same day.
Byron Council also has a history of making courageous decisions. I hope that it and the community will choose to celebrate next year on an alternative day.
No doubt many of our local indigenous and non-indigenous artists would love to support such an initiative and make it just as successful.
Julie Pirotta, Goonenegerry