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Yarra City Council scraps Australia Day on January 26

The unanimous decision was made last night. 

Yarra City Council will no longer recognise Australia Day on January 26 in light of conversations with the local Indigenous and broader Yarra community. 
 
From 2018 onwards, Council will no longer hold a citizenship ceremony on January 26 - instead opting for a small-scale event featuring a Smoking Ceremony that acknowledges the culture and sadness felt by the Aboriginal community on the date. 
 
“The overwhelming sentiment from our Aboriginal community is that January 26 is a date of sadness, trauma and distress. They have told us that this is not a day of celebration, but a day of mourning,” said Yarra Mayor, Cr Amanda Stone. 
 
“We also commissioned an independent survey of nearly 300 non-Indigenous people in Yarra, which showed strong support for change. 78.6% of broader community respondents supported the idea of Council holding an event to acknowledge Aboriginal experiences of January 26.
 
The decision comes in the wake of increasing support for Australia to change the date of Australia Day festivities, with Yarra Council aiming to push for similar outcomes at a State and Federal level. 
 
“In the last 12 months, there has been a groundswell of community support for change from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across the country. The community is looking for leadership on this issue.
 
“People can still have their barbeques and parties on the January 26 public holiday, but I hope our stance encourages people to stop and think about what this date really means in the history of our nation.
 
“A celebration of national identity should be inclusive of all Australians. 26 January is not an appropriate date because it marks the beginning of British colonisation and the loss of culture, language and land for Australia’s First Peoples."
 
However, the decision has not been well received by the Prime Minister. 
 
“The council is using a day that should unite Australians to divide Australians,” said Prime Minister Turnbull. “I recognise Australia Day and its history, is complex for many Indigenous Australians but the overwhelming majority of Australians believe the 26th of January is the day and should remain our national day.”
 
Hopefully, this is a step in a positive direction for a day that represents immense sadness for many Indigenous Australians.