Darebin Council in Melbourne‘s northern suburbs has become the second Victorian council to officially ditch Australia Day celebrations, voting on the issue earlier today.
The council instead plans to:
- host an event to celebrate Indigenous culture on another date;
- replace the current Australia Day Awards with Darebin Community Awards, to be held on a different day;
- set up new community awards specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
- and move citizenship ceremonies to other dates throughout the year.
Darebin Mayor Kim Le Cerf said:
We formally recognised that January 26 is not an inclusive date for our national celebration.
January 26 is indelibly tied to the dispossession and subsequent oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and our Council cannot ignore the exclusion this entails and the impact it has on the health and wellbeing of our Indigenous community.
We will support the broader movement to ‘change the date’ and have resolved to ensure that the way we mark January 26 in Darebin is inclusive and respectful of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
The local government area – which encompasses suburbs including Preston, Thornbury and Northcote – shares a border with Yarra, who last week voted to change the way they talk about Australia’s national day, which, to many Indigenous peoples, is exclusionary and represents a long history of colonisation and dispossession, beginning in 1788.
Yarra voted to ditch the term ‘Australia Day’ in favour of the simple ‘January 26th’, and to update their citizenship ceremony to a respectful Indigenous smoking ceremony.
Their actions led Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to strip Yarra of the authority to conduct citizenship ceremonies at all, after both Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten criticised the council’s bold and divisive move.
At tonight’s Darebin Council meeting, they also resolved to fully support the ‘YES’ campaign for marriage equality, recognising that the national postal vote will have harmful effects on the LGBTIQ community.
They intend to ensure the safety of LGBTIQ people in their community through support and community information and education.