Do Hunter councils support changes to Australia Day?

A local council in Melbourne has voted to stop referring to January 26 as Australia Day out of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Yarra City councillors voted for the change and agreed to cease holding any citizenship ceremonies on that day from 2018.

The move has come under immediate fire from the state and federal governments, but what do the Hunter’s local councils have to say? Fairfax Media approached four councils and here are the responses.

Newcastle City Council 

β€œThis issue is best left to the federal parliament to debate.” 

- Council spokesman

Port Stephens Council 

β€œI've been made aware of what's happening at Yarra City in Victoria and am very conscious of the current national conversation around the date of Australia Day. We naturally review our Australia Day events each year and this issue is certainly something worth discussing with our Aboriginal Strategic Committee and community, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. It is important that we listen carefully to the issues that affect them. Going forward, the conduct of Australia Day events will be a matter for our new Council to consider.”

- Port Stephens Council General Manager Wayne Wallis

Maitland City Council

β€œCouncil currently holds a citizenship ceremony on Australia Day and at the Riverlights Multicultural Festival. Citizenship ceremonies are also held each month. Should any change to this arrangement be considered it would be a matter for the new Council.”

- Council spokesman

Lake Macquarie Council

β€œCouncil traditionally holds a citizenship ceremony on Australia Day, as do many councils across the country. It is one of four citizenship ceremonies regularly scheduled by Lake Macquarie City Council throughout the year, although this number can vary due to demand.

β€œThe ceremony on Australia Day is popular with people taking citizenship. Being a public holiday, it is convenient for family and friends who want to celebrate with them, and some people feel the occasion is symbolic.

β€œLake Macquarie City Council takes an inclusive, community-oriented approach to Australia Day events. Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture is an important aspect of the Citizenship Ceremony, which begins with an Acknowledgement of Country.

β€œCouncil currently has no plans to move the Citizenship Ceremony from Australia Day.”

- Council spokeswoman