• Aboriginal Affairs Minster Ben Wyatt was a big supporter for the name day. (AAP)Source: AAP
The public holiday in WA was changed from 'Foundation Day' to be more inclusive of the state's Aboriginal community in 2012, but opinion is still divided on the move.
Rangi Hirini

4 Jun 2018 - 1:42 PM  UPDATED 4 Jun 2018 - 1:46 PM

Iva Hayward-Jackson, a proud Noongar man, was against changing Western Australia's 'Foundation Day' public holiday to 'WA Day'.

He told NITV News he didn't believe it would change the attitudes of West Australians, and he has seen no improvements for Aboriginal Australians in the state.

“What has the change of the name done for us? Has the rate of Aboriginal people in prisons changed? No, that hasn’t changed. The mortality rate of Aboriginal children changed? No. Has the conditions of the remote communities changed? No.”

The change to Western Australia's annual holiday was brought in under former premier Colin Barnett, with bipartisan support, and was first celebrated in 2012.

"Foundation Day and the original settlement by the British will always be remembered as part of this celebration, but this now is a day for the state to celebrate its achievements, and look forward with confidence to the future, and is inclusive of all people," Mr Barnett said at the time.

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Aboriginal Affairs Minster Ben Wyatt, who was a huge supporter of the name change, told NITV News more West Australians now know what the day means. 

“Now, what we see around WA is a real celebration of our state, strong celebrations, whether it be through music or cultural events,” he said.

“I think it been a success because finally, we have a day where people may know exactly what it means, oppose to Foundation Day when no one has the slightest idea.”

'Foundation Day' commemorated the arrival of the first British settlers in Western Australia and the establishment of the Swan River Colony.

Mr Hayward-Jackson is a strong advocate for Aboriginal sovereignty. 

“It's about self-empowerment self-determination and self-control over our own issues,” he said.

"We’re not different the Palestinians or Iraqis… We’ve never given up our rights, we never will.” . 

WA Day is celebrated on the first Monday of June. 

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