Whadjuk stories open Oz Day events

A DISPERSED and diverse series of events across five days will replace Perth’s cancelled Australia Day Skyworks.

In November, Perth’s new councillors took heed of WA chief health officer Andrew Robertson’s advice and cancelled the Skyworks due to the risk of having huge crowds packed together for a few hours and uncertainty about WA’s Covid status. The call was made early so not too much cash would be sunk into the $2.2 million event, but about $250,000 of “unrecoverable” cash had already been spent on planning and contracting according to a report. 

Perth has never publicly considered cancelling Australia Day festivities as Fremantle council did over concerns about Aboriginal sensitivity, but this year it has put Indigenous events at the forefront, opening with Shining the Light: The Story of Us, a light and water projection at Elizabeth Quay.

It tells the story of this area’s Whadjuk Nyoongar traditional owners, with narratives of courage and resilience during the colonial times.

It’s got the endorsement of the council’s Elders Advisory Group, with elder Noel Nannup saying in a statement: “If we are going to have genuine healing, we need opportunities like these to tell our story so we can have the best possible chance for genuine healing and this will take us to a much stronger future.”

The yearly Birak Concert celebrating Aboriginal cultures will also still go ahead on the afternoon of January 26 at Supreme Court Gardens, and there’s a couple dozen other free events running across January 22 to 26 listed at visitperth.com/ausdayfest

by DAVID BELL

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