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Yarra Council votes to change ‘Australia Day’

The Yarra Council is set to vote on whether or not January 26 will be referred to as Australia Day, and the possibility of replacing the annual citizenship ceremony with an Indigenous Smoking Ceremony.

A report from the Yarra Council states a conversation was held with the local Aboriginal community regarding the date resembling, “mourning, sadness, anger and distress for many Aboriginal people”.

Mayor of Yarra City, Amanda Stone, said that although it may not have any impact in the short-term, it might change the way people think about the meaning of the day.

“We don’t have the authority to change the name. We don’t have the authority to change the date. That’s a big process.”

The council will also vote to officially support the #changethedate campaign in all further council publication and social media.

On the same day as the vote, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Alex Hawke, sent a letter to all councils.

He warned that hosting the ceremonies on a different day would be in breach of the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code, disallowing them from hosting them.

“A citizenship ceremony must not be used as a forum to protest the practice of celebrating Australia Day on 26 January,

“This includes arranging a citizenship ceremony to align with an ‘anti or alternate Australia Day celebration’” he said.

While the code specifically says you cannot use the ceremony to promote any religious, political or commercial agenda, Ms Stone said they are not trying to do that.

“We are simply considering changing when we hold our first citizenship ceremony of the year.” she said.

The meeting is planned to take place at 7pm tonight in the Richmond Hall.

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