Starting conversation about 26 January

The City of Greater Geelong will formally initiate a conversation about 26 January, which is celebrated as Australia Day, to understand, respect and acknowledge the experiences of First Nations people and the wider community.

The Kilangitj Aboriginal Advisory Committee provides advice to Council on First Nations matters and requested that Council consider engaging with First Nations People and the broader community about 26 January.

Councillor Jim Mason, Chair of the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio: said the engagement is a long time coming for Greater Geelong’s First Nations community, which is the largest in Victoria.

“Let’s all embark upon a respectful, safe and inclusive conversation over the next six months about January 26 and how Australia Day is celebrated,” Cr Mason said.

“The truth can be difficult to hear, but through listening to our First Nations People and broader community, and thinking deeply together, I hope we can come to some meaningful conclusions that will assist us in our Reconciliation journey.”

The Australian Government has gazetted 26 January as national holiday since 1994, and the community engagement by the City of Greater Geelong Council does not propose to change the date.

Recommendations from the engagement will be presented back to Council and the community to guide the City’s future approach to activities and commemorations held on 26 January.

City respectfully recognises the Wadawurrung people as the traditional owners and first inhabitants of the Geelong region.

The Kilangitj Aboriginal Advisory Committee recommended engagement for at least six months to allow for mature and deliberative discussions on this complex and emotive topic.

The conversation will begin with face-to-face and online forums with First Nations People. Engagement with the broader community is proposed to begin later this year and will include an online survey, the opportunity to provide a written submission, feedback via social media and interactive community forums.

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