More respectful acknowledgement for 26 January begins in 2023

Published on 24 January 2023

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A public flag lowering and Welcome to Country will be hosted in Maribyrnong this 26 January, which Council will also recognise, for the first time, as a day of mourning for many First Nations people.

The day’s program, including a smoking ceremony by a First Nations elder ahead of this year’s Citizenship Ceremony, incorporates recommendations unanimously endorsed in December 2022, as a first step towards a more respectful acknowledgement.

At 8:30am, as a tangible recognition of the grief and loss the day represents for many First Nations Peoples, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor will lower the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags to half-mast at a ceremony at the Braybrook Community Hub, where the Council Chambers are currently housed during the Town Hall redevelopment.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, last year’s flag lowering was not able to be a public event.

At 9:30am, there will be a Welcome to Country incorporating a smoking ceremony, at the Maribyrnong Community Centre ahead of this year’s Citizenship Ceremony, where 60 conferees will take the pledge to become Australian citizens.

The community is able to participate in both the flag lowering and Welcome to Country events. The Citizenship Ceremony is a private event and not open to the public.

This year’s 26 January events reflect community thinking around a more respectful way to acknowledge the day gathered during community engagement over the past 18 months, in which close on 4,000 residents provided comments.

Council has also written to the Prime Minister and other ministers advocating to potentially change the date and include more First Nations information in Citizenship tests.

Message from the Mayor, Councillor Sarah Carter

Council is pleased to be able to include a smoking ceremony for the first time ahead of a citizenship ceremony on 26 January in our municipality.

This is one way we can help those who are not fully aware of the background to this significant and increasingly mainstream issue, particularly in respect to the experiences of First Nations Peoples, to better understand the stories and appreciate their journey.

This is a first step towards a more respectful acknowledgement, recognising this is about more than just one day. Council remains committed to continuing to engage, educate and inform around wider issues.

Maribyrnong News

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