Politics

A Second Melbourne Council Has Voted To #ChangeTheDate Of Its Australia Day Celebrations

#ChangeTheDate

A second Melbourne council has voted to ditch its Australia Day celebrations in solidarity with Indigenous people and the #ChangeTheDate campaign.

On Monday night, councillors in the City of Darebin in Melbourne’s north voted 6-2 in favour of moving their Australia Day citizenship ceremonies forward to January 25. They also voted to rename their Australia Day awards the Darebin Community Awards, and added two new categories designed to honour Darebin’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander citizens.

The vote in Darebin comes a week after councillors in the neighbouring City of Yarra also voted to scrap their Australia Day celebrations. Assistant immigration minister Alex Hawke subsequently stripped Yarra council of its authority to conduct citizenship ceremonies, while prime minister Malcolm Turnbull slammed the council’s decision as “utterly out of step with Australian values”.

Despite this, the councillors in Darebin felt it was their duty to take a stand. In moving the motion, councillor Trent McCarthy said it was time to acknowledge “the extreme hurt” felt by Australia’s first peoples.

“When you know what January 26 represents to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our community, and what it represents to those who have come to understand what it means, how can you possibly continue to have the national celebration on that day?” he asked.

Darebin mayor Kim Le Cerf said that while the council’s decision was largely a symbolic one, she hoped the gesture helped further the conversation around the controversial date.

“[January 26] cannot truly be a national day, when the oldest part of our nation cannot own it equally with the rest of us,” she said. “It’s time to set that right. That’s what the overwhelming sentiment has been in my discussions with residents, and that’s what this motion acknowledges.”

Feature image via Kim Le Cerf/Facebook