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Culture and community returns to Australian Open for First Nations Day

Jarred Cross -

More than 20 individual initiatives and events paint the calendar for the Australian Open's First Nations Day, set to be held at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.

The day is now a permanent fixture at the Grand Slam since its debut in 2022.

Ahead of last year's events, Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Joy Murphy said "Tennis Australia has worked hand in hand with our community to recognise and value Aboriginal people and culture".

The day hosts a trail of events mixing traditional ceremony with performance, art and inclusion.

Budding tennis stars and fans have their chance to feature across multiple courts through the day, with a First Nations coin toss and Indigenous ball kids at centre court in the evening.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags are also expected to drape the stands after being handed at Rod Laver Area and Margaret Court Arena.

Australian Open 2022 singles champion Ash Barty on the court in 2023. (Image: Tennis Australia)

Australian Open First Nations Day program - January 17, via Australian Open

9:45-10:30 am: Yidaki South Bath didgeridoo performance (Tanderrum Bridge/entrance)

10:30 am: Welcome to Country, smoking ceremony, Djirri Djirri Dancers and Koori Youth Will Shake Spears, Aunty Joy Murphy, Zoe Brown & Jada Narkle, Victorian State Schools Spectacular Choice (performance of composition by Aunty Joy), (MCA Stairs)

10:30-10:45 am: 11:30-11:45 am - Kids on court

10:30-10:45 am: First Nations Talent Showcase (multiple courts)

11am-7pm: Various performances; Gum Leaf and Uncle Herb Patten, Canisha CK, Blanche (Garden Square Stage)

11:30 am-12:15 pm: Indigenous Outreach Program, Dance Workshops (AO Ballpark)

1-10 pm: DJs (Grand Slam Oval)

1:30-2:15 pm: Performances (AO Ballpark)

6:40-7:05pm: Bangarra Dance Theatre performance (Rod Laver Arena)

All Day: Soundscapes, Coin tosses, ball kids, food available, NARRM signage, artworks, First Nations merch, Welcome and acknowledgements of Country

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