Thursday, February 22, 2024

Melbourne to vote on future of Australia Day  

City of Melbourne Councillors will next week consider an options paper for the future of Australia Day celebrations on 26 January. 

At Tuesday’s Future Melbourne Committee meeting, Councillors will consider options including advocating to the Federal Government to change the date of Australia Day, while continuing its support for events delivered by other organisations in Melbourne on 26 January, Council said in a statement this week.

The recommendation follows an independent survey of more than 1,600 City of Melbourne residents and businesses, which found nearly 60% of respondents want to see Australia Day celebrated on a different date.          

Council also consulted with the five traditional owner organisations that make up the Eastern Kulin, which unanimously support changing the date. 

“If endorsed, Council will continue to issue permits for events delivered by the State Government and other organisations on Australia Day, while supporting activities that acknowledge First Nations perspectives of 26 January,” Council said.

“Citizenship ceremonies would continue to be held, incorporating First Nations elements including an Acknowledgment of Country, and a community education campaign would be rolled out to help people better understand Aboriginal experiences.     

“The City of Melbourne is working to advance reconciliation and govern with Aboriginal peoples, however any decision to change the date must be made at a Federal Government level,” it said.  

Councillors will debate the motion and make further comments on the issue at the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on Tuesday night.              

Key findings from the RedBridge survey: 

  • 59.8% collectively support changing the date of Australia Day, compared with 31.6% who do not;
     
  • 59.9% indicated it was likely Australia Day would be moved from 26 January in the next 10 years;
     
  • 55.1% believe that local councils should have citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day;
     
  • 31.3% indicated activities that acknowledge Indigenous Australians should be held on Australia Day.

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