Should the date of Australia Day be changed?
Should the date of Australia Day be changed? Mike Richards GLA260117PONY

Oz Day 'divides our community and it's unnecessary'

THE changing of the Australia Day date celebrations and ceremonies for Byron Shire is "looking unlikely" for next year with a lack of support from critical parties.

Byron Shire Council, along with numerous other councils, considered abolishing citizenship ceremonies on January 26 and changing the date earlier this year.

Byron Shire major Simon Richardson said it was still something they would work towards.

"It's a day that divides our community and it's unnecessary," Cr Richardson said. "We could easily hold events the evening before which pays respect to a section of our community which are offended by the 26th.

"That would still allow us to come together to celebrate the Australia we live in today, and also give an opportunity to our indigenous people to be front and centre of that celebration."

He said there wasn't enough support from the local indigenous group to get it off the ground.

"The local indigenous group we liaise with has had a changing of the guard and there doesn't seem to be a great deal of appetite with the new board members," Cr Richardson said.

"We just need an opportunity to share the proposal more thoroughly."

Cr Richardson made his opinions clear in a news article in January that Australia Day was an "inappropriate way and day to celebrate".

"It is also the day the decimation and denigration of the first Australians began," Cr Richardson wrote in his opinion piece published in The Northern Star. "Decimation and denigration that we still have not rectified, learnt from, apologised for or paid penance - our national wound remains."

He said community feedback from the piece was "overwhelmingly positive ... from Aunty Delta K. to the average person in the street".

"I think most of us feel uneasy about having (the) day," he said.

"What we need is to be respectful to everybody.

"For me, I think on the eve of the 26th is close enough to pay respects to that ... (and) would show that we are truly committed to walking in to the future with our indigenous community."



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