• City of Cockburn, south of Perth, says they will consult the wider community after Australia Day debate (AAP)
The City of Cockburn, located 23 kilometers south of Perth, will consult their residents on whether or not the council will change their future Australia Day celebrations.
By
Rangi Hirini

Source:
NITV News
9 Mar 2018 - 11:13 AM  UPDATED 9 Mar 2018 - 11:13 AM

Another Australian council is looking at changing the date of their Australia Day celebrations out of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Cockburn, a southern Perth suburb, located 15 kilometres east of Fremantle, are looking at potentially changing their future Australia Day events.

If Cockburn changes their Australia Day celebrations, they will become the second council in Western Australia to make the change.

Fremantle made headlines in 2016 when they announced their alternative Australia Day celebrations.

The Coogee Beach Festival is the city of Cockburn’s annual Australia Day event.

A part of the council’s drafted Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) a proposal to move the Coogee Beach Festival Event to “a day other than 26th of January” has been requested.

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At a community meeting held last night, the council made the decision to consult with locals before going ahead and changing any future events.

In a survey conducted by the City’s Aboriginal Reference Group 57 respondent who all identified as Aboriginal overwhelmingly voted for Cockburn to change their Australia Day celebrations from January 26.

“When I stand there and see those fireworks and the many people celebrating, my heart is empty and I can’t celebrate because this day of our history represents freedom and a chance of a better life for all of those non-indigenous people but not for us,” one respondent said.

“Don’t change the day, change the title,” another wrote.

The City of Cockburn surveyed a further 267 community members, most of whom identify as Aboriginal, and they found most people viewed Australia Day celebrations as a major conciliation issue which they believe needs to be addressed.

“The comments in the survey identified that most Aboriginal people believe that 26 of January is a day of sadness, not celebration and that cultural activities should only be provided for educational and reconciliation purposes at the Citizenship Ceremony event until the Australia Day date is changed nationally,” the report said.

The City of Cockburn’s Reconciliation Action Plan expired in 2016 and the council is hoping to adopt a new plan which will run until 2021.