Surf Coast Shire Council is changing the way it acknowledges 26 January to promote healing and reconciliation for First Nations People.
The changes that were adopted at the September Council meeting are consistent with Council pursuing a Reconciliation Action Plan and upholds the Council Plan theme of First Nations Reconciliation.
Council is making these changes to acknowledge that 26 January is a difficult day for First Nations People as it represents a date that Europeans settled in this country and commenced the decimation of their ancestors and culture.
From 2022, Council will no longer participate in celebratory events and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags will fly at half-mast on 26 January.
Council will conduct a citizenship ceremony on this day as it is a federal government requirement to do so, but it will advocate for this requirement to change.
Council also resolved to engage with the Wadawurrung Aboriginal Corporation and the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation regarding the potential of future mourning or survival events on 26 January.
Cr Kate Gazzard said that this was an important step for Council and is another sign of its commitment to reconciliation.
“We know 26 January is a day that signifies sadness for our Traditional Owners and other First Nations People,” she said
“Council is committed to doing something about this by not being a part of celebrations on the day and lowering the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags as show of solidarity and respect.”
“We will also engage with the Wadawurrung Aboriginal Corporation and the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation on future mourning or survival events to see if this would be appropriate and to understand what role Council might play.”
“We are learning as we work towards reconciliation, and we want to show leadership whilst being in step with Aboriginal people when looking at a potential future event so that we get it right,” she said.