Community conversation on January 26 broadens

October 26, 2022 BY

Community Engagement Coordinator Felicity Bolitho (from left), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Senior Policy Officer Julie Saylor-Briggs and Councillor Jim Mason seeking public feedback about Australia Day at the Geelong Show. Photo: CITY OF GREATER GEELONG

CITY of Greater Geelong councillors are asking the community to understand, respect and acknowledge the experiences and goals of First Nations Peoples as the city moves to its next round of consultation about how to recognise January 26.

The council is midway through a six-month consultation process to help guide its future approach to activities and commemorations on the date currently celebrated as Australia Day, and the results of its first round of consultations with First Nations People have been released.

Geelong mayor Peter Murrihy said the 173 survey respondents was the largest received from the First Nations community “on any issue” and revealed that 45 per cent were against the day being one of celebration, and they wanted change.

A quarter expressed positive feeling towards January 26 and the remaining 30 per cent were either neutral, had mixed feelings or no connection to the date.

Nurturing Family 2019 by Cam Darroch, Noongar and Palawa peoples, projected onto City Hall. Photo: MATT BONNER

“There are many painful stories of the history of Geelong, from colonisation and the Frontier Wars to the Stolen Generations,” Cr Murrihy said.

“There are also many positive stories to be shared.

“Truth telling and education is important to healing and to be able to move forward together as the whole community of Geelong.”

The latest round of feedback is now open to the greater Geelong community via an online survey and included a pop-up session at the Geelong Show on Friday last week that included the city’s Aboriginal affairs portfolio chair Cr Jim Mason.

“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,” he said.

Councillors stres they are not proposing to change the date of the national holiday, nor the holding of citizenship ceremonies on the day, as these are mandated by the federal government.

To read the report from the first stage of engagement or to share your views, head to yoursay.geelongaustralia.com.au/26Jan