15 August: Yarra Council unanimous resolution on the future of Council-run activities on the January 26 public holiday. Congratulations!
Yarra is the home for many Aboriginal organisations, and Invasion Day is not a suitable day to designate a national pride day. Congratulations to Yarra Council for making this symbolic move. May other councils follow their lead. Darebin Council is already following the move! Hooray.
Yarra Council say they made this decision following extensive consultation with the local Aboriginal community, as well as a survey of the broader Yarra community.
Council will from now on refer the public holiday as ‘January 26’ rather than ‘Australia Day’; to hold an event acknowledging the loss of culture, language and identity that this date represents for many Aboriginal people; to shift the corresponding citizenship ceremony to a different date; and to participate in the nationwide #changethedate campaign.
Email Yarra Council and tell them your thoughts, or tweet #changethedate.
Unanimous Council resolution
(a) Council, from 2018 onwards, promote and hold a small-scale, culturally-sensitive event featuring a Smoking Ceremony on January 26 that acknowledges the loss of culture, language and identity felt by Aboriginal community on January 26;
(b) Council commit to a communications plan that focuses on broader community education to help people better understand Aboriginal community experiences of January 26 and to explain Council’s position on January 26;
(c) Council commit to translating a January 26 information sheet into the 6 most commonly spoken community languages in Yarra, and partner with the Yarra Settlement Forum and the Yarra Multicultural Advisory Group to distribute and promote;
(d) Council partner with Melbourne Aboriginal Youth Sport and Recreation Incorporated to run an education workshop for young Aboriginal people, run by and featuring a panel of local Aboriginal Elders with connections to Fitzroy, the establishment of important Aboriginal organisations and other achievements;
(e) Council in collaboration with the Municipal Association of Victoria, Victorian Local Government Association, Reconciliation Victoria and State Government departments to hold an event in the second half of 2017 to share this report and its recommendations;
(f) Council lobby and seek partnerships with State Government departments and other interested parties to acknowledge the Aboriginal community’s pain and disconnection with Australia on January 26, and seek opportunities to promote education about this in the wider community;
(g) Council contact Melbourne City Council and Songlines to see how Council can support and promote Share the Spirit Festival in 2018;
(h) Council cease referring to January 26 as Australia Day in all communications, to acknowledge the fact that this date commemorates the British invasion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands and is therefore not an appropriate date for an inclusive national celebration;
(i) Council refer to January 26 merely as January 26 until a more appropriate term is adopted nationally – a term which acknowledges the experiences of the people who inhabited the land for over 60,000 years prior to the raising of the Union Flag on Gadigal country on January 26 in 1788;
(j) Council cease holding Citizenship Ceremonies on January 26;
(k) Council continue to recognise excellence and service in Yarra’s community through Community Awards, but awarded on days other than January 26 and on days that better suit the nature of each award, and not under the banner of Australia Day Awards;
(l) Council officially support the #changethedate campaign in Council publications and social media in the lead up to January 26 in 2018 and beyond in seeking a more inclusive day to celebrate national pride; and
(m) Council consider ways it can lobby the Federal Government to change the date in line with the resolution passed by National General Assembly of Local Government in June 2017.