Byron Shire Council’s Australia Day ceremony to be held on 25 January

Published on 20 September 2018

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Byron Shire Council’s Australia Day ceremony will be held on 25 January 2019.

The proposed change was supported at today’s Council meeting with Mayor Simon Richardson saying his motion was not about stopping celebrating Australia Day and our nation’s achievements, but simply moving the date of Council’s official ceremony.

“From next year our Australia Day ceremony will be held on the evening of the 25 January, and this will not have an impact on any other events planned for the 26 January,” Mayor Richardson said.

“I believe that as a nation we have a huge amount to celebrate, and a lot to be thankful for, however I also believe that the date, 26 January, does not reflect the importance of the first Australians and their history,” he said.

“In fact, celebrating the arrival of Europeans causes grief for many people so I think to move the date for our Australia Day ceremony to the night before is a reasonable compromise.

“By acknowledging the debate around Australia Day, Byron Shire Council has adopted a rational and mature approach to this issue. 

“This is an opportunity to acknowledge the concerns of our Aboriginal community with respect to the date of 26 January whilst still honouring the needs and values of those who wish to celebrate our successes as a nation.

“I would like to think that this decision by Council is an opportunity for the future where everyone gathers on the 25 January to celebrate our community and to unify and recognise our culture, past and present,” Mayor Richardson said.

“It reflects the sentiment of the Federal Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon. David Coleman, in his welcome to new Australian citizens when he says …Our history and culture has been forged over thousands of years, first through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and more recently with people from all corners of the earth…

“Our history in Australia started before people from all corners of the earth arrived so let’s hold our day on a day before the second wave of settlers arrived,” Mayor Richardson said.

“This decision will not have any impact on awards that are presented to recognise the achievements and contributions of our amazing community members.

“Nor will it change the significance of the citizenship ceremony which is always a moving experience for those people who choose to become Australian citizens.

“In fact, I think it will have even more meaning for everyone involved.

“Importantly, Council will invite local custodians to work with us to help with the development and management of our event on 25 January 2019,” Mayor Richardson said.

For more information contact Simon Richardson, Byron Shire Mayor, on 0427 076 834.