• Melbourne's inner-city Yarra Council is facing more backlash (AAP)Source: AAP
Yarra Council has returned fire, after claims the council had told workers they would not be allowed to use the term “Australia Day” during last week’s January 26 celebrations.
Rangi Hirini

2 Feb 2018 - 2:22 PM  UPDATED 2 Feb 2018 - 2:22 PM

According to a media report, the inner north Melbourne council had sent out a briefing prior to Australia Day, telling it’s 1000 employees to avoid saying “Australia Day”.

The report claimed council chief executive Vijaya Vaidyanath sent a bulletin on January 15 which stated that due to the council’s decision to change their Australia Day celebrations they would also change the way they mark the national day.

“This includes no longer referring to this date as Australia Day," the report claimed the bulletin said.

“All staff are asked to use the words ‘January 26 public holiday’ rather than ‘Australia Day public holiday’ when notifying clients or customers of the opening hours of their service or centre on this day,” the bulletin said.

However in a statement titled “fact check” the Yarra Council has offered a different narrative to those being pushed by some media outlets which it said had gotten the story wrong.

“The bulletin did not refer to the way staff may choose to recognise the day in their private lives," the council's statement read. 

“It provided advice to staff to ensure the intent of Council’s decision is reflected when preparing official communications from Council,” Yarra Mayor Cr Daniel Nguyen said in the statement.

In August 2016  the council unanimously voted to stop referring to January 26 as Australia Day, making them to first council in the nation to do so.

They also voted to end the traditional citizenship ceremonies, which all councils throughout Australia holds on January 26.

What we are hoping to do is get people thinking about the issue and make a collective effort to acknowledge that this date causes pain and sadness for many Aboriginal people and the impacts continue to be felt to this day,” Mayor Daniel Nguyen said in his statement today.

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