Celebrating Australia Day on January 26 has been called into question by Yarra City Council which voted last night to stop holding any citizenship ceremonies on that day from 2018.
Councillor Simon Landow has asked residents if they want Wollondilly Council to discuss the option of not holding Australia Day celebration on January 26.
“The decision by Yarra City Council came as a shock and I want to know what our community think of the idea,” he said.
“We have a significant Indigenous population and I want to be culturally sensitive.”
Whilst Cr Landow personally does not want to change the day, he did say he wanted January 26 to be inclusive for all shire residents.
“It is important to celebrate Australia Day on January 26 but we should be mindful of what that day means to the Indigenous members of our community,” he said.
“It is a significant day for many people who emigrate to our shire and many hold off receiving their citizenship until Australia Day.
“I encourage residents to tell the council if there is more it can do to make celebrations a more inclusive day.
“If there are Indigenous residents who feel disenfranchised with the council then I would encourage them to make their voices heard and we can start a discussion about how to make the day better.”
On January 26, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip took formal possession of the colony of New South Wales and raised the British flag for the first time in Sydney Cove.
Some Indigenous Australian view January 26 as ‘Invasion Day’ and mourn their history.
Cr Landow said the Tharawal Land Council was invited to attend the ceremony every year to conduct a welcome address and a smoking ceremony.
He said the council wants to work with the land council to make the day more inclusive.
Cr Landow said he would talk to the council’s Australia Day Committee about how they could make the day more inclusive and how they could engage with the community better.
Residents on the Wollondilly Living Facebook page said:
Ian Tait: I think it is fair to have a courteous conversation about this emerging topic.
Lilian Perestrelo: Yarra Council must have too much time on their hands to come up with something so ridiculous. Its the first step to loosing our identity.
Debbie Cooper: More appeasement for the minority, this madness has to be stopped.
John Van de Putte: I personally think Australia Day should be put on another day so everyone can enjoy the diversity of Australia
Mel Thompson: No. Australia is our country and a day for all Australians. Should we pander to minority groups in the name of political correctness? The majority of people seem to like Australia Day as it stands. The day should be [about] the celebration of our great country and looking forward. Not for bringing up past wrongdoings. They deserve their own day for recognition. Not a day intended to celebrate unity and diversity.