This week’s SPEAKER’S CORNER is by former Stirling councillor and current president of the Mount Lawley Society Paul Collins. He asks if WA Day has lost its way and is now just another public holiday with no real meaning.
AS a kid back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the first Monday in June was known as Foundation Day, but it was part of a whole group of days that made up what was celebrated as ‘WA Week’.
I remember Coles supermarkets would give a flower to customers on Flower Day, tens of thousands of trees were planted across the State on Arbor (Tree) Day and Arts Day encouraged visits to museums, as well as the opportunity to see musicians and artistic displays across shopping centres, with the very best musicians playing at special galleries and halls.
WA Week was run by the Western Australia Week Council.
The official seven days ran in order from the first Monday in June as follows — Foundation Day, Flower/Friendship Day, Endeavour Day, Arts Day, Arbor (Tree) Day, Sport Day and Thanksgiving Day.
The different days filtered deep and wide throughout the community.
This meant aged care homes, rotary clubs, scouts and girl guides, sporting clubs, schools and businesses all participated in a day of interest to them.
Indigenous history and culture was also recognised through the various themes adopted for each day.
1983 celebrated Jon Sanders’ double circumnavigation of the globe on Endeavour Day. I still have the card from that day. It was quite inspiring!
If we had a ‘WA Week’ this year then the spirit of Endeavour Day would have surely recognised the achievements of Steve Plain.
From being dumped in the surf at Cottesloe Beach in 2014 resulting in a broken neck Mr Plain recovered to climb the highest summit on each of the earth’s seven continents in world record time of less than four months in 2018.
Why aren’t we teaching and sharing values of friendship, endeavour and thanksgiving, as well as recognising and promoting the arts and sport; all foundations for a successful community?
Instead, in 2018 we had “Celebrate WA” which was more interested in promoting Elizabeth Quay.
I have three children at two different schools and neither school is participating or doing anything like we did in the ‘70s or ‘80s.
My kids would be lucky to have a teacher even remind them of the meaning of Foundation Day or to plant the seed of endeavour in the next generation with a story like Steve Plain’s.
Last Monday all of Perth was invited to Elizabeth Quay for “awesome live music and entertainment on the main stage, a huge interactive kids’ zone, Perth’s biggest and best line-up of delicious food trucks, sports clinics with the Wildcats and Scorchers, Bar Pop’s cool urban bars serving local beers and wines and spectacular fireworks over the Swan River.”
I am all for celebrating, but I doubt that any of what happened at Elizabeth Quay last Monday truly defines us as West Australians or teaches our kids the values of WA Week that I grew up with.
It would be wonderful to see a re-introduction of ‘WA Week’ with its specially marked days of celebrating WA.