All but one Councillor voted at the August meeting in favour of the shift away from a January 26 event, which was described as a “more inclusive” outcome for the community. Councillor Donnie Grigau abstained.
“As part of the review of the policy and the Australia Day event, Council officers noted that over the past few years there had been a shift in the engagement and participation,” said Economic and Community Development Program Leader Shannon Maloney.
“Whilst seen as a valuable recognition program, feedback received from stakeholders revealed a desire to move the community awards to another date which may be seen as more inclusive to the entire community and inspire increased participation in the acknowledgment and celebrations of service.”
Mrs Maloney said under the changes, the focus of awards would shift to a celebration of volunteerism and awards would be presented at the Borough’s annual Volunteer Week event.
“Importantly, the revised policy shifts the focus to community service in general rather than linking it specifically to Australia Day,” she said.
The change means the Borough will no longer host a celebration and Flag Raising ceremony on January 26. Council will continue to hold citizenship ceremonies on the day on request, a spokesperson said.
The decision reflects growing unease within the broader community about celebrations on Australia Day and an increased push for the date to be changed.
Councillor Fleur Hewitt applauded the decision; “I think it’s really great that we’re moving this to Volunteers Week, given the awards are a recognition of the wonderful contributions of service that members of our community make to the borough.”