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City of Whittlesea receive January 26 petition

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Pam Kiriakidis
Pam Kiriakidis
Pam Kiriakidis has worked as a journalist at the North Central Review since 2022, with a particular focus on the City of Whittlesea and stories for the Whittlesea Review. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media and Communications majoring in journalism and focuses on politics, community, and health with the occasional niche sports story finding its way in front of her.

An online petition requesting City of Whittlesea to leave Australia Day alone was tabled and noted at council’s February meeting. 

Council received a petition regarding Australia Day containing approximately 4500 signatures collected from around the state.

The submission asked council to reconsider Australia Day, with the following statement:

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“We the undersigned, petition that council should leave Australia Day alone. Australia Day means different things to many, it is still a day to be proud and acknowledge those who have served, fought, and died under our flag, defending our freedoms. For some, Australia Day may be painful,” the petition said.

“We believe that the debate about Australia Day is not the role of local councils – who should be focused on local issues.

“We ask that council leave Australia alone and hold community events that celebrate Australia Day, Acknowledge Indigenous Culture and mark Australia Day with Citizenship Ceremonies.”

City of Whittlesea chair administrator Lydia Wilson said the petition, which was tabled and noted at the council meeting, would be communicated to the lead petitioner and noted in the minutes.

“For many people Australia Day is an opportunity to reflect on what Australia has become today and to mark the occasion with family and friends,” she said.

“But for others, it is a difficult day. The City of Whittlesea is home to the third largest Aboriginal population in Melbourne and we acknowledge the complexity of holding a day of celebration on the 26 January.”

Neighbouring councils such as Macedon Ranges Shire Council in 2023 scrapped Australia Day events in recognition and respect of the grief expressed around the date, while other shires including Mitchell Shire Council continue to celebrate the day with ceremonies and events.

The Age reported earlier this year that at least 30 out of Victoria’s 79 councils – almost 40 per cent – would not host citizenship ceremonies this Australia Day, with analysis showing six metropolitan councils and 10 regional councils moved their citizenship ceremonies since last year.

City of Whittlesea was one of the few metropolitan councils that shifted their 2024 ceremonies from Australia Day.

It comes after the Federal Government granted councils to be able to conduct citizenship ceremonies three days before or after Australia Day in 2022.

Ms Wilson said in December 2020 council resolved to refocus its approach to Australia Day, and since then, had sought to move forward in a way that fostered harmony and built understanding and connection. 

“We are proud in the City of Whittlesea that we are a diverse and inclusive community committed to the vision of creating a place for all,” she said.

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