NSW Greens Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson, Dawn Walker has thrown support behind councils across NSW deciding to move their Australia Day citizenship ceremonies from January 26, as part of the nation-wide campaign to Change the Date of Australia Day.
“As Australians, we all want a day on which we can come together as a community, to reflect on where we’re at and to celebrate our wonderfully diverse, open and free society. But January 26 is not that day” said Dawn Walker MP.
“January 26 remains, for many Indigenous Australians, a painful reminder of the invasion of their lands and their ongoing dispossession that resulted from colonisation.
"Local councils have shown incredible leadership in passing motions in support of changing the date of Australia Day. They show that they place fairness, compassion and justice at the heart of their decision-making and I look forward to more Councils taking this step."
Greens Councillor for Lismore City Council, Vanessa Ekins said:
“Lismore City Council has the support of our Aboriginal Advisory Group to write to the Prime Minister and State MPs urging them to change the date of Australia Day and to identify more appropriate dates for holding our citizenship ceremonies other than on 26 January.
“We want to work towards culturally-inclusive Australia Day celebrations and our decision is the start of our conversation with our community about how we can more meaningfully celebrate being Australian” said Councillor Ekins.
Greens Mayor of Bellingen Shire Council, Dominic King said:
"We are aware and supportive of concerns that the current Australia Day celebration occurs on a day that represents deep hurt to many Australians and have received representations from the community around this.
“We have initiated discussions with both Gumbaynggirr representatives and the Shire’s Australia Day Committee about these concerns and will continue that process before taking any specific actions" said Mayor Dominic King.
“Decisions by local councils to hold citizenship ceremonies and celebrations on dates other than 26th January may be largely symbolic, but symbols are powerful and create momentum for change” said Dawn Walker MP.
“There’s an ongoing political conversation about closing the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the ongoing injustices faced by many Indigenous Australians. Those injustices are embedded in our Nation’s history and the Greens applaud councils for demonstrating the leadership that the Federal Government should be showing by ceasing to conduct citizenship ceremonies on January 26 and working towards truly inclusive celebrations on a new date.