Australia Day is an event close to my heart. Before being elected as Lord Mayor, I was the Executive Director for the Australia Day Council NT (ADCNT) for 16 years, commencing my term in 1996 when the amazing Dr John Yu was Australian of the Year and ceasing in 2012 as Territorian Laurie Baymarrwangga was named Senior Australian of the Year.
I hadn’t realise there was a full-time job at the ADCNT until I saw the job advertised. My father had been inaugural Chairman of the ADCNT and, over the years, I’d been to countless flag raisings with Dad. It was therefore with great excitement that I commenced on the journey that, unbeknown to me, was to be such a long term commitment to the cause.
My brief was simple
Raise the profile of the organisation, repair our relationship with our major funder, the NT Government (the ADCNT was in severe financial stress at the time), and increase the amount of events being held across the Territory.
The best aspect of the job
Although it was a demanding position and the ADCNT operated on the smell of an oily rag, I loved every moment. The best aspect was the opportunity to meet extraordinary Australians; the Australian of the Year Award winners. Over the years I got to tour the NT with these wonderful Australians, all with their own unique stories.
Australia Day means different things to different people
As I worked on increasing events I found the best way to talk to people about celebrating Australia Day was to start with “mark the day how you want to”. Territorians are a pragmatic group of people, finding ways to celebrate Australia Day that suited them and their community.
By 2012 the organisation was financially stable, community events had increased across the NT, the Australia Day Fun Run in Darwin is the biggest in the NT, the Gala Ball became a sold out event that had moved to the Convention Centre, and OzFusion a multicultural celebration had been an outstanding success in it’s second year.
For the remote communities sport played a big part as did water slides, barbeques and slippery poles. In the urban centres flag raisings and citizenship ceremonies are most common but so are fun runs, ute runs, and performances.
I love the fact that the National marketing campaign is Celebrate Your Way. How will you celebrate Australia Day? I’ll be off to flag raisings, citizenship ceremonies, OzFusion and as many more events as I can squeeze into my day.
Whatever way you choose to celebrate – Happy Australia Day.