For many years, Local Government Councils have been required to hold a Citizenship Ceremony on the 26th of January. Last month, the Code was altered to state that, “Councils must hold a ceremony on Australia Day, or the three days prior or the three days after Australia Day”.
The City of Sydney strongly supports changing the date of Australia’s national day to one that can be fully embraced and celebrated by all Australians. Therefore we have decided to move this year's Citizenship Ceremony. We should not hold a national celebration on a day that marks the dispossession of Australia’s First Peoples.
26 January is not a day of unity but of mourning, or survival.
Advocating for a change of date won’t resolve the devastating and far-reaching impacts of colonisation, but it does provide a platform for an ongoing and honest conversation.
Earlier in 2022, Council resolved to actively campaign to make sure the upcoming referendum to enshrine a Voice to Parliament in the Constitution is a success.
As well as Constitutional recognition, it is important that progress is made on other elements of the Uluru Statement, including a process of truth-telling.
I am calling on the Prime Minister to work with National Cabinet to change the date of Australia’s national day from January 26 to one that can be fully embraced and celebrated by all Australians.
Advocating for a change of date provides a platform for an honest, if painful, conversation about invasion and all that followed.
Council also supported:
- Using our library system, communications, talks programs and other means to advance the truth-telling aspirations of the Uluru Statement.
- Bringing forward public art projects in the City's Eora Journey – which has already seen us deliver monumental works like Yininmadyemi in Hyde Park and bara on the Tarpeian Lawns.
- Investigating opportunities for strategic and imaginative approaches in the public domain to enable truth-telling at sites that ignore First Nations perspectives.
Sydney's history, particularly in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, includes events and attitudes that our current policies and initiatives need to redress.
By acknowledging our shared past, we are laying the groundwork for a future which embraces all Australians, a future based on mutual respect and shared responsibility for this land.