The City of Melbourne Council will advocate to the Federal Government to change the date of Australia Day, following an independent survey which showed majority support for the move in the city.
At Tuesday’s Future Melbourne Committee meeting, Councillors endorsed an options paper for approaches to 26 January, which also recommended Council continue its support for events delivered by other organisations in Melbourne on Australia Day.
The decision follows an independent survey of more than 1,600 City of Melbourne residents and business owners, which found nearly 60% of respondents want to see Australia Day celebrated on a different date.
“It’s clear there is majority support in our municipality to change the date on which we celebrate our nation – that’s why we will lobby the Federal Government to change the date of Australia Day,” said Lord Mayor, Sally Capp.
“We’ve sought feedback from a wide range of voices in our community to understand the most unifying way to celebrate what it means to be Australian.”
Council says it will continue to hold citizenship ceremonies on 26 January, incorporating First Nations elements such as an Acknowledgement of Country, while supporting activities that acknowledge First Nations perspectives of 26 January, such as Share the Spirit.
“It’s ultimately the Federal Government’s decision to change the date. Until then, we will continue to support a range of activities on 26 January, including citizenship ceremonies,” said Lord Mayor Capp.
The RedBridge survey found that 59.8% of respondents collectively supported changing the date of Australia Day, compared with 31.6% who do not, the Mayor said.
Further, 59.9% indicated it was likely Australia Day would be moved from 26 January in the next 10 years, while 55.1% said they believed that local councils should hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day.
More than 30% also indicated activities that acknowledge Indigenous Australians should be held on Australia Day
“The majority of Melburnians want to change the date on which Australia Day is celebrated, and we’re proud to take a strong stance in advancing this important discussion,” said Aboriginal Melbourne portfolio lead Councillor, Dr Olivia Ball.
“We need to find a new way forward that acknowledges our history and respects First Nations voices.”
Council says a community information campaign will also be delivered to enhance the community’s understanding of Aboriginal sentiments relating to 26 January.