After considered discussion at its meeting tonight, Clarence Council agreed to recommendations from its Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group to move future community events, citizenship and awards ceremonies away from 26 January, in light of the recent amendment by the Federal Government to the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code.

The decision by Council not to hold citizenship and awards ceremonies on 26 January acknowledges there is now a greater understanding within the community that 26 January is not a day of celebration for all its citizens.

Mayor Brendan Blomeley said Council understood this was a sensitive issue for many people, and there were varying opinions and views about 26 January in the Clarence community.

“After a very positive and constructive discussion about the challenges surrounding this date, we have decided to accept all the recommendations presented by Council’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group,” said Mayor Blomeley.

“In accordance with changes to the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code, Clarence City Council will no longer hold a citizenship ceremony on 26 January and starting from 2024 the ceremony will now be held three days either side of that date, as now allowed by the Federal Government.

“We also requested the Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group to conduct further research into how we may recognise and pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on 26 January (while it continues to be a national public holiday) and we look forward to receiving their recommendations.

“These are positive steps for our community and demonstrate our commitment to reconciliation and greater truth telling and look to forward working together with the community to create a more inclusive and respectful society.”

Due to COVID 19 disruptions in 2022, Council held its Citizen of the Year Awards with a volunteer recognition event in May, as part of National Volunteer Week celebrations.

“Last year the awards perfectly matched our Community Spirit Gala, a recognition of the contribution volunteers make in our community, and I look forward to seeing that become the standard practice in the future given many winners are long time volunteers themselves,” said Mayor Blomeley.