Council plans groundbreaking NAIDOC Week Citizenship Ceremony

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Inner West Council is set to become the first Council in NSW to initiate and hold a new annual citizenship ceremony in NAIDOC Week.

At its meeting last week, Council backed a plan for the creation of the new citizenship ceremony that will allow new citizens to be sworn in as Australian citizens during NAIDOC Week as an alternative to doing so on Australia Day.

Mayor of Inner West Council Cr Darcy Byrne said Council will consult closely with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community on the plan for the ceremony

“I personally love Australia Day citizenship ceremonies, because they are so joyous, but I also share the belief of many Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians that January 26 symbolises the start of the colonisation and dispossession of Aboriginal people,” he said.

“I don't support taking away Australia Day citizenships ceremonies, as all that would do is punish newly arrived migrants, many of whom have escaped war and famine, who wish to be sworn in on that day.”

Cr Byrne said he will instead write to all prospective new citizens offering the new ceremony as an alternative citizenship ceremony to Australia Day as well as providing an opportunity for everyone to recognise and celebrate the Aboriginal history of the local area.

“I’ll invite them to be sworn in, if they choose, at a ceremony that will specifically and proudly celebrate the history, culture, achievements and resilience of Aboriginal and Islander people,” he said.

“This new ceremony can be a moving and respectful way to acknowledge the ongoing hurt and discrimination Indigenous people have suffered, as well as educating new citizens about the strengths of the world's longest continual human civilisation, which has existed here for so many millennia.”

Planning for the creation of the new annual citizenship ceremony in NAIDOC Week will include consultation with local elders and Aboriginal representatives.

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Inner West Council acknowledges the living culture and unique role of local Aboriginal communities with the the traditional Aboriginal groups of the LGA being the Gadigal and Wangal peoples of the Eora nation.

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Page last updated: 06 Aug 2018