The Australia Day Debate
The push to change the date or outright end the celebration known as Australia Day has grown in recent years. 26 January marks the First Fleet’s arrival to Sydney Cove in 1788. This day is a national public holiday and has traditionally been marked with different celebrations, including citizenship ceremonies at local councils which welcome new citizens and award them their citizenship certificate.
To many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, this day is not one to be celebrated and instead referred to as ‘Invasion Day’ or ‘Survival Day’, marking the loss of culture and lives in many areas throughout Australia. Melbourne’s ‘Invasion Day’ rally saw 40,000 people marching in protest on 26 January 2017. On 15 August 2017 the Yarra City Council unanimously voted to stop referring to 26 January as Australia Day. The Council will instead hold a small-scale event with a smoking ceremony on the day and acknowledge the loss of culture, language and identity felt by the Aboriginal Community and will no longer be holding Citizenship Ceremonies on this day.
Consequently, the Federal Government has revoked Yarra Councils ability to hold citizenship ceremonies. New citizens of Yarra Council must now attend citizenship ceremonies in surrounding Councils. The City of Darebin Council has followed suit, making changes to their events on 26 January knowing the consequences from the Federal Government.
The Glenferrie Times contacted the City of Boroondara about 26 January and was informed “There is no change under consideration at Boroondara.”