Geelong is scrapping Australia Day celebrations and will lobby the government to change the date
- Geelong Council scraps Australia Day celebrations
- Councilors unanimously approved the change
- The Council will lobby the government to change the date
A local council has voted not to recognize Australia Day due to its “traumatic historical impact” on the region’s traditional owners and First Nations population.
Geelong City Council voted to permanently halt the January 26 celebration after six months of consultation with the community.
Geelong councilors voted unanimously in favor of the controversial change, which included the rescheduling of citizenship ceremonies.
The council also stated its intention to lobby the government to consider changing the date of Australia Day.
Going forward, citizenship ceremonies at Geelong Council will move to a different day, and the city will have a formalized ‘First Nations Peoples Accreditation’, and cultural events and activities will be held across the region on 26 January each year.
Geelong Council has announced the controversial plan to scrap Australia Day celebrations going forward and will be lobbying the Australian government to change the date
Councilors voted unanimously in favor of the controversial change, which includes the reshuffling of citizenship ceremonies (photo: Geelong Council chambers)
This includes a truth-telling ceremony in Johnstone Park – an event that chronicles Australia’s history of colonial conflict and dispossession and recognizes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures.
The change followed a six-month consultation period that generated 957 responses, with around 68 percent of respondents saying change was needed.
The city’s engagement report listed 447 contributions from First Nations people who reiterated their negative feelings and desire for change around the date.
“All First Nations respondents wanted a change in how the day is commemorated.”
Citizenship ceremonies at Geelong Council will move to a different day and the city will have a formalized ‘First Nations Peoples Accreditation’ and cultural events and activities will be held in the region on 26th January each year (Australia Day Fireworks)
However, the announcement on the council’s Twitter account was met with outrage.
‘Australia Day, January 26, keep your hands off you waking bunch of socialists,’ one wrote.
“I think you’ve all lost track. Stay off Australia Day. I served under that flag and will always observe Australia Day on that date. How far do you want to go with this, where do you draw the line,” said another.
‘The primary role of the municipality is to repair roads and collect waste. Who gave you the right to make such strange and un-Australian changes?’ a third noted.
‘Roads, tariffs and waste. That is your council agenda. Don’t get into the political sphere. Taxpayers are not paying your rates and are telling this awake municipality to be full,” a fourth added.
The latest vote came after Merri-bek Council in Melbourne’s north decided to recognize January 26 as a day of mourning.
Yarra and Darebin councils voted in 2017 to stop holding citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day, while Melbourne City Council said it would urge the federal government to change the date.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has expressed support for Australia Day, but last year scrapped a controversial rule forcing municipalities to hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26.
The former Liberal government passed the change, meaning municipalities would be stripped of their right to hold citizenship ceremonies if they failed to hold the event on January 26.
HOW JANUARY 26 IS NOW COMMEMORATED IN GEELONG
Recognize and acknowledge the significant community and First Nations Peoples of the Geelong Region response
Recognize and respect the traumatic historical impact on the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners and First Nations Peoples of the Geelong Region
Support the development of educational opportunities for residents to learn and recognize the history of January 26 within the context of Geelong, including:
– An awareness and educational media campaign about The Heart: A Shared Journey (and the Council’s commitment to the Uluru Statement of the Heart)
– A series of Community Conversation events
– Continued community involvement and deeper conversations
Support the development and delivery of formalized First Nations Peoples recognition, and the support of First Nation cultural events and activities in the Geelong region on January 26, 2024 and January 26 each year thereafter, including:
– Mid-morning Recognition, Acknowledgment and Truth Telling Ceremony at Johnstone Park billabong
– A flag raising ceremony of the Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at City Hall
– An official opening for cultural parties and events
– Continued work with event organizers on January 26 to recognize First Nations Peoples and incorporate First Nations cultural activities
Move the citizenship ceremony(s) to another day within three days of January 26 and incorporate First Nations Peoples elements into the ceremony, and continue to include a recognition of the country
Lead the conversation with other councils and advocate on behalf of the community to the federal government regarding a change of date or change of day conversation
Reaffirm the Council’s commitment to the Uluru Statement of the Heart
Stop referring to January 26 as Australia Day in all communications and refer to the day as January 26