THE Auspire Australia Day Council kicked off Australia Day celebrations last Thursday with invited guests treated to a Q & A session with 2021 WA Australian of the Year recipients.
Held at the Perth Cultural Centre, WA Governor Kim Beazley and Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt also spoke at the event before a barbecue breakfast was served and guests were given exclusive access to the WA Museum Boola Bardip.
Mr Beazley said 2020 was a year that had tested all Australians.
"We've tested the mettle of our health responders, our police and military, our logisticians, our education systems, our scientific establishments - and so far the outcomes have been very good," Mr Beazley said.
"We are not free of this pandemic, but what we can say at this point in time is that the country has exercised a level of social discipline that speaks well of us as a people and well in terms of our care for each other."
In organising Australia Day events around the State, Mr Beazley said respect for Aboriginal people needed to be high on the agenda.
"The Prime Minister (Scott Morrison) has moved in that direction with a minor but critical alteration of our national anthem by removing the word 'young' and replacing it with 'one'," Mr Beazley said.
"We celebrate our nation's place in the world, a proud and ancient multicultural nation built on shared values that allow us to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities that other nations aspire to."
2021 WA Australian of the Year Helen Milroy, who is Australia's first indigenous doctor and has been a pioneer in research, education and training in Aboriginal and child mental health, said she hoped to use the platform to support the mental health of children.
"I think there is a little bit of a lack of understanding of what mental health challenges there are for children," Ms Milroy said.
"There are some kids that face extraordinary challenges and we need to get in early and get their sparkle back so they can have good lives and are able to contribute back to society.
"There needs to be equity as well, it shouldn't matter where you live, every child has the right to thrive."
2021 WA Young Australian of the Year and family director of anti-slavery organisation Walk Free, Grace Forrest also spoke at the event.
The Walk Free team developed the Global Slavery Index as the world's leading data set on understanding modern slavery and in 2018 successfully campaigned for the implementation of the Australian Modern Slavery Act, which has been supported by the Australian government and businesses.
"When people learn about the extent of modern slavery in our world, embedded in our global economy, as close as the clothing you could be wearing or your local supermarket - it is something that we radically want to change," Ms Forrest said,
"Slavery doesn't just exist in history, it continues to exist today.
"We've heard a lot of people say over the past 12 months our system is broken and it's not that our system is broken, it's that our system is built this way, at convenience over any other costs - costs to the environment, costs to animals and certainly costs to human life and rights."