Last night the City of Yarra Council voted to acknowledge January 26 in a culturally appropriate way. The decision was based on extensive conversation with the local Aboriginal community and feedback from an independent survey which indicated that 78.6% of non-Indigenous Yarra residents supported ''the idea of the Council holding an event to acknowlegde Aboriginal experiences of January 26.'' This includes referring to the day as ''January 26'' until a ''more appropriate'' term is nationally adopted.
Today the AGE released a similar survey.
After last night's vote the council will officially support the #changethedate campaign and consider ways to lobby the federal government to change the official date of Australia Day. The council will also stop holding citizenship ceremonies on January 26 but will hold a small, culturally sensitive event featuring a smoking ceremony and acknowledging the loss of culture, language and identity felt by First Australians on this day.
The decision has received wide criticism by many including Prime Minister Turnbull who has said he is ''deeply disappointed'' by the decision and stripped the City of Yarra of their right to hold citizenship ceremonies.
"They are seeking to take a day which unites Australia and turn it into one which divides us," he said.
"To change the date of Australia Day would be to turn our back on Australian values, on the great achievement of 24 million Australians here in the greatest, most successful multicultural society in the world."
Still, in recent year a growing number of Australians have been ditching the words Australia Day for more sensitive titles such as Invasion Day, Survival Day and Sovereignty Day.
Yarra Mayor, Amanda Stone, has stood behind the council decision stating, "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," Cr Stone said.
Yarra council announced that it will work to educate non-Indigenous Australians about the sensitivity of this Day for First Australians.
See the media release here.