Darebin Council votes to cease Australia Day celebrations

The City of Darebin in Melbourne's north, which included suburbs of Northcote, Thornbury, Preston and Reservoir, voted on Monday night to follow the lead of neighbouring Yarra Council in moving its Australia Day events from January 26.

Emotional Indigenous community members held up an Aboriginal flag and gave councillors a standing ovation as the decision was handed down.

A council report said there was a surge in community support to change the date.

It said while Australia Day marked the arrival of the first British ships in 1788, it had become known as Invasion Day among many Indigenous Australians and was a day of "sorrow and mourning."

Darebin Mayor Kim Le Cerf said it was time to stop unnecessarily excluding Indigenous people on January 26.

"It cannot truly be a national day when the oldest part of our nation cannot hold it equally with the rest us," she said. "It is time to set it right."

At least another two councils – Moreland and Hepburn Shire – are also debating whether to join the battle to change the date of Australia Day.

Councillors voted to replace the ceremony with a "culturally appropriate event" and to dump all references to Australia Day, including renaming its Australia Day Awards the "Darebin Community Awards".

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