On Wednesday 13th September, Moreland City Council became the third Melbourne local council to drop all references to Australia Day on January 26th and committed to joining the drive to change the date of national celebration.
Moreland follows Darebin and Yarra in abandoning official Australia Day celebrations, instead deciding to host a culturally appropriate event on a date to be agreed upon by the Moreland Reconciliation Working Group. The council, however, reaffirmed its commitment to holding citizenship ceremonies on January 26th in a bid to avoid losing the right to perform the ceremonies like its inner-city neighbours.
The debate lasted more than one hour and was, at times, heated with opposing views expressed. However, in the end the votes tallied 7-4 in favour.
Councillor Samantha Ratnam said Moreland would now join forces with Yarra and Darebin council to lobby the federal government to switch Australia Day nationally from January 26th, a date that marks the arrival of the First Fleet from England.
Cr Ratnam said the motion wasn't about erasing history, but acknowledging "the full story of our country".
"This isn't about banning barbecues, it's about respect for the world's oldest living culture. I'm proud of council for taking this step," she said. "Thousands of Australians like me want to celebrate Australia Day - just not on a day that is painful for others".
"We stand with Yarra and Darebin in taking leadership on the change the date campaign. This is a gesture of respect and an important step in healing. It means a lot to many people. Change has to start somewhere and I'm sure other councils will soon follow."
Read more about Moreland's decision here.