Contributed by Joe Montero
Despite warnings from the Turnbull government of being stripped from holding future citizenship ceremonies, Melbourne’s City of Darebin has joined nearby Yarra Council and voted to crap holding the event on 26 January.
The City of Derebin covers an area that includes the suburbs of Northcote, Thornbury, Preston and Reservoir.
Two other councils, Moreland and Hepburn Shire, are considering making the same move.
at the Darebin council meeting, emotional Indigenous community members held up an Aboriginal flag and gave councilors a standing ovation, as the decision was handed down to the packed Preston City Hall, the venue where the council meetings are held.
As it had in Yarra, the move came after a process of public discussion that was open to all residents.
Unfortunately, some misguided people have jumped on the misleading bandwagon that has been created by sections of the big media and politicians. The councilors have been accused of trying to get rid of Australia Day. This is not true. All they have done is to take up the call, which is growing in the Australian community, to shift our recognition as a nation to a more appropriate day.
the present Australia Day commemorates the arrival of the First fleet in 1788 and the planting of the British flag on soil that later came to be known as Australia.
For those who were already here, this could only be called an invasion that led to dispossession and the near total destruction of their society. It was a disaster and nothing to celebrate. To mark this event as the foundation of Australia, is offensive to a section of the Australian community.
Australia was not created by a British sea captain, but through the blood ,sweat and tears of those who have lived on this land. Warts and all, this is what Australia is. There are more suitable dates to recognise and value who we are. Two that come to mind are the Eureka rebellion (3 December 1854) and Federation (1 January 1901).
Recognition of our true history, would signal that as a nation we have finally grown up, are comfortable with and value being Australian. Not in a jingoistic way that devalues others. Instead of this, in a way that we recognise that our diversity is our strength and we respect those who are a little different.
Moving away from 26 January is linked up with the ongoing process of recognising the truth of history, not as an academic exercise, but to gain understanding, reconcile and move together towards the future.
The action taken by the councils is not bowing to an active minority, as some would misrepresent the situation. It is about healing the hurt of the past and about ending the hurt and moving forward together.
Local Aboriginal woman Lidia Thorpe said Australia’s colonisation had caused pain and displacement for generations of Indigenous people.
“My heart is pounding because of the hurt that has already been created in this room for us,” she said.
“Australian people need to come to terms with the truth of this country for us to move forward. There needs to be an understanding of the human rights of all people. We have a public holiday for horse racing, for a football grand final, but no public holiday day to recognise the first people of this nation.”
Ms Thorpe said that historically the federal government’s treatment of Aboriginal people had been “appalling” but local councils like Darebin had the power to create grassroots change.
A council report said there was a surge in community support to change the date.
Darebin Mayor Kim Le Cerf said about 26 January, “It cannot truly be a national day when the oldest part of our nation cannot hold it equally with the rest us”.