Update - January 2024

As we walk the path towards reconciliation, and fulfilling our commitment to the Uluru Statement of the Heart and the Council resolutions made in May 2023, the City has continued to work with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners and First Nations Peoples. We have continued to support local 26 January events, moved citizenship ceremonies to alternative dates, and no longer refer to 26 January as Australia Day.

The City looks forward to continuing to work closely with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Corporation and First Nations community to have a Geelong-based event for residents in the future.

Update - May 2023

Changes planned to the way Greater Geelong marks 26 January

Following extensive consultation with First Nations People and the broader community, Greater Geelong Council has endorsed changes to the way it will mark 26 January in 2024 and beyond.

On Tuesday 23 May 2023 Councillors endorsed the changes following a six-month community conversation.

The consultation was supported by advice received from the Kilangitj Aboriginal Advisory Committee - a First Nation advisory committee, which has been instrumental in providing Council with strong cultural guidance on First Nations initiatives.

There was widespread support for greater inclusion of First Nations culture and history into the way 26 January is commemorated in Greater Geelong.

Most of the feedback from First Nations and the broader Geelong community called for Council to reflect the loss of land, and the erosion of culture, kinship and language experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People since 26 January 1788.

As a result of the feedback, the Council has endorsed the following changes to the way it will mark 26 January:

  • Support the development and delivery of formalised First Nations Peoples acknowledgement and cultural events across the Geelong region on the day, including:
    • A mid-morning Acknowledgement, Recognition and Truth-Telling Ceremony in Johnstone Park billabong;
    • A Flag Raising Ceremony of the Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at City Hall;
    • An official opening for cultural celebrations and events; and
    • Continued work with organisers of events on 26 January to recognise First Nations Peoples and include First Nations cultural activities.
  • Re-schedule citizenship ceremonies to another day within three days of 26 January and incorporate First Nations Peoples elements into the ceremonies, continuing to include an Acknowledgment of Country; and
  • Cease referring to 26 January as Australia Day in all communications and refer to the day as 26 January.

As part of the decision, the Council also resolved to advocate to the federal government on behalf of the community regarding a conversation about changing the date or changing the day.

In addition to decisions regarding 26 January, Council has also reaffirmed its commitment to the Uluru Statement of the Heart.

You can read the final Engagement Report HERE.

We thank everyone who took part in this conversation, your time and thoughtful responses have been most appreciated and valued.

Engagement Summary

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback and joined in the six-month conversation, the contribution period has closed.

Please see the Stage one and Stage two Community Engagement Summaries and the final Engagement Report in the Document Library on this page.

Welcome 2022

The City of Greater Geelong has been listening to and seeking feedback from across the Greater Geelong community about 26 January – which is currently celebrated as Australia Day.

For some people in our community, January 26 is a day to celebrate, while for many First Nations People it represents a day of mourning, sorrow and survival.

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

Your feedback

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback as part of the six-month conversation from May to November 2022.

We received very strong feedback to this engagement – 957 survey responses. This included 447 contributions from First Nations People, the largest number of contributions we have ever experienced from the First Nations community on any issue.

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

We encourage you to read the Engagement Findings Report for the first stage of conversations (Word version and PDFs can be found in the Document Library on this page).

Thank you and take care.

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