News State Tasmania News Tasmanian Aboriginal group welcomes council move to change Australia Day celebrations
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Tasmanian Aboriginal group welcomes council move to change Australia Day celebrations

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About 1,000 members of Tasmania's Aboriginal community protested at Parliament House on Australia Day. Photo: ABC
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Tasmania’s Aboriginal community will be consulted about shifting Australia Day celebrations, under changes being considered by Hobart City Council.

The first step would be to move the citizenship ceremony from January 26.

But not all are on board.

Lord Mayor Sue Hickey was one of the naysayers, but her amendment to lobby the Federal Government on the issue was supported.

Alderman Helen Burnet said January 26 was a day of mourning for many.

“We don’t want to be isolating people, it’s really important in the process of reconciliation for Tasmanians that we think about how we celebrate Australia day and when we celebrate Australia Day,” she said.

Last year, Kingborough Council announced it was shifting its Australia Day ceremony but said it was mainly due to a clash in venue availability.

The head of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, Heather Sculthorpe, welcomed the Hobart move and said Alderman Hickey was right to refer it on to the Commonwealth as it was their legislation which had to be changed.

“By Hobart and other councils setting the way like they have been, the pressure will really be on for [Premier] Will Hodgman to come out to support it would be a fantastic thing and it will make it all the quicker so that we can move on to something else more significant,” she said.

About 1,000 people attended this year’s “invasion day” rally in Hobart.

Ms Sculthorpe has again questioned the merits of Australia Day and said it was not about a date.

“It’s about what do people want to celebrate,” she said.

“The issue for the Aboriginal community is, what conditions have to be met before what people feel there is something to celebrate and we’re a way off from that.
“It’s not about when will we celebrate Australia Day it’s how do we reconcile, how do we form a proper relationship with the Aboriginal community.”

Hobart’s Lord Mayor came under fire late last year after the Museum of Old and New Art unveiled their vision for a former industrial area on Hobart’s waterfront, which included a large-scale memorial to Tasmanian Aboriginal warriors.

Alderman Hickey said she did not support a “guilt-ridden memorial” at Macquarie Point because she “did not kill the Aborigines”.

Ms Sculthorpe said she had since had discussions with the mayor but was yet to sit down with the Premier.

“We’ve spoken to the mayor, we’ve spoken to Mary Massina from Macquarie Point and those issues are ongoing and we’re looking forward positively to some good results there,” she said.