Change the date: WA footy clubs get behind push to change date of Australia Day
WA’s football clubs have joined the push to change the date of Australia Day, sharing poignant messages on social media about why they believe celebrations should be boycotted.
Players, coaches and clubs all weighed in on the divisive debate around whether Australia Day should be changed from January 26 as a mark of respect for First Nations people.
Both West Coast and Fremantle shared statements acknowledging what the date means to many First Australians.
Fremantle Dockers AFLW coach Trent Cooper also used his social media accounts to share his thoughts on the issue.
“I used to love Jan 26 and what it represented to me, the coming together of our nation,” Cooper posted on Instagram.
“It wasn’t until I was better educated about what it meant to our First Nations people that I understood why we have to change the date.
“The more people that are educated, the closer we are to moving to a date where we can ALL celebrate together.
“The big change will come about not by those most affected, but by those least affected understanding and then helping to educate others.”
In an apparent sign of endorsement, Fremantle AFL coach Justin Longmuir “liked” the post before the club issued its own statement.
It said the club looked “to a future where all Australians can reflect on and celebrate the rich history of our country on an inclusive day”.
The post was captioned “#KalyakoorlWalyalup”, a motto previously used on their social media during Sir Doug Nicholls Round. The club in 2019 explained “it’s our Freo slogan, the Noongar way”.
In the post, the club said it “recognises that today marks a day of distress and sadness for many of our First Nations Peoples within our community”.
“As a club, we continue to walk together towards a vision of a reconciled Australian community united and built on respect where all are welcome and have the opportunity to thrive,” it said.
The West Coast Eagles later joined the chorus of statements saying it too would “continue to work together with the Waalitj Foundation towards a day where all Australians can celebrate together”.
The club’s star ruckman Nic Naitanui shared his views with his 152,000 Instagram followers. “Australia Day has been a nationally recognised public holiday on Jan 26 since 1994. Aboriginal people have been marching on Jan 26 since 1938. Let that sink in,” his post read.
North Melbourne shared a video of defender Kyron Hayden, who hails from WA, sharing a poignant speech with teammates about why the day should not be one for celebrations.
“Obviously we live in a wonderful land rich in resources and beauty, and Australia is a multicultural society teeming with opportunity,” he said.
“It should be celebrated by all — young, old, white, black or other, but unfortunately, today’s date is not a date of celebration for all 26 million of us.
“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people it’s a day of mourning.”
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