Sydney Council Votes To Change Date Of Australia Day Celebrations
A Sydney council has voted to scrap Australia Day celebrations on January 26, in a move hailed 'the right thing to do'.
Inner West councillors on Tuesday night voted to support a proposal to move all celebratory events, except the council's citizenship ceremony, from January 26.
The council is instead encouraging the community to attend the Yabun Festival -- the largest gathering and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultures in Australia -- held nearby that day.
It will continue to hold a "respectful" citizenship ceremony, as required by the government.
Other festivities, including a family celebration in a local park and the 'Citizen of the Year' awards, will move to a different date.
Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne said the move was about recognising that January 26 represents sadness for many indigenous Australians.
"It's a small but respectful act of recognition," he said.
The right thing to do.
Byrne said he believes community attitudes towards Australia Day are changing.
"For Aboriginal people, the date represents the beginning of colonisation, dispossession, the removal of children and deliberate destruction of language and culture," he said.
"A growing number of Australians want that to be respectfully acknowledged."
Reconciliation NSW, the peak not-for-profit for advancing 'reconciliation' in the state, welcomed the decision.
"We encourage local government, organisations and community groups to approach 26 January respectfully," it said.
Last month, Launceston City Council become the second Tasmanian municipality to move its celebrations from January 26, out of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Reconciliation NSW acknowledged several local councils have now changed how they mark Australia Day, saying it supports a "respectful and continuing national conversation" about shifting our national day from January 26.
"Such a conversation would help us reflect on those who we are as a nation, what we stand for, and what date in our history best reflects those values and attributes," it said.