City of Yarra decides not to call January 26 Australia Day
August 15, 2017
The City of Yarra Council has unanimously passed a motion to stop referring to January 26 as Australia Day, to stop celebrating an annual citizenship ceremony on the day and to hold an Indigenous-themed event "marking the loss of Indigenous culture".
Yarra Mayor, Cr Amanda Stone said the changes have been informed by in-depth conversations with the local Aboriginal community, as well as feedback from the broader Yarra community.
“The overwhelming sentiment from our Aboriginal community is that January 26 is a date of sadness, trauma and distress. They have told us that this is not a day of celebration, but a day of mourning,” said Cr Stone.
“We also commissioned an independent survey of nearly 300 non-Indigenous people in Yarra, which showed strong support for change. 78.6% of broader community respondents supported the idea of Council holding an event to acknowledge Aboriginal experiences of January 26.
“In recognition of our Aboriginal community’s experiences, we will hold a small, culturally-sensitive event acknowledging the loss of culture, language and identity felt by the community on January 26.
“We will also be undertaking community education to help people better understand the Aboriginal community’s experiences of this date,” she said.
“In the last 12 months there has been a groundswell of community support for change from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across the country. The community is looking for leadership on this issue.
“People can still have their barbeques and parties on the January 26 public holiday, but I hope our stance encourages people to stop and think about what this date really means in the history of our nation.
“A celebration of national identity should be inclusive of all Australians. 26 January is not an appropriate date because it marks the beginning of British colonisation and the loss of culture, language and land for Australia’s First Peoples,” said Cr Stone.