A report recommending Council adopt the January 26 Statement of Intent and move the Australia Day citizenship ceremony to January 25 will be considered at the July Council meeting.
The Statement of Intent is proposed to be a demonstration of Council’s increased understanding and leadership when it comes to recognising the impact of January 26, Australia Day, on the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
While the recommendation to move the citizenship ceremony to January 25 aligns with the Federal Government’s announcement last year that Australia Day citizenship ceremonies can now be held between January 23-29 to provide greater flexibility.
If supported by Council, the Statement of Intent would not change how events on January 26 would run, including a number of Australia Day community events staged by service clubs and volunteer groups. Any events in support of Traditional Owners and First Nations would be in addition to traditional activities.
The report to Council notes January 26 is widely seen as a day of mourning and loss for First Nations people, and the Statement of Intent was developed following a number of meetings with Aboriginal community leaders.
The Statement of Intent has been supported by the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative, DJAARA (trading as the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation) and the Bendigo Youth Council, while the Taungurung Land and Waters Council has developed the ‘Taungurung Statement on January 26’ as a guide to stakeholders on their approach to January 26 events.
If supported by Council, the Statement of Intent outlines the City of Greater Bendigo’s commitment would be to:
- Work in partnership with Traditional Owners and First Nations community members to hold an event on January 26 which acknowledges the history, holds space for all First Nations people and provides an opportunity for the Greater Bendigo community to show support
- Partner with Traditional Owners and First Nations community members to build broader community knowledge and promote understanding regarding January 26 in relation to the impact of colonisation on First Nation’s people
- Build recognition and understanding of Traditional Owner’s and First Nation’s culture into citizenship ceremonies. We will be guided by our Traditional Owners and work in partnership to develop a ceremony that promotes understanding, connection and acknowledges Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung culture
- Advocate for a review of the date and its appropriateness Federally, ensuring alignment with the intent of the Uluru Statement of the Heart
- Work together in partnership with Traditional Owners and First Nations people to continue the conversation around January 26 and progress plans to address issues going forward
It is also noted in the report that the suggested changes align with the City’s Barpangu Reconciliation Plan 2020-2025.