Oz Day up for debate

The 2023 Community BBQ Breakfast may be the last one held on January 26. Photo from City of Bayswater

BAYSWATER’S citizenship ceremonies and barbecue breakfast may be shifted off Australia Day.

Following councils like Fremantle, Vincent, and Cambridge who moved their events out of respect for Indigenous people opposed to January 26 celebration, Bayswater councillors voted at their May 23 meeting to put a change out for public comment. 

The ceremonies would be held within three days of Australia Day, the window allowed by the Albanese government when it loosened up the prior Liberal government’s rule of strictly January 26 ceremonies.

Along with the citizenship ceremonies, the council had held the “Australia Day BBQ” until its Reconciliation Advisory Committee suggested rebranding it to the “Community BBQ Breakfast” in 2021. The public will also get a say on whether the BBQ breakfast stays on the 26th.

Councillors Josh Eveson and Michelle Sutherland opposed the motion. 

Cr Dan Bull also voted against putting it out to public comment, because he said the council should make the decision to change the citizenship ceremony date immediately. 

Cr Bull said he’d attended a recent Reconciliation Advisory Committee meeting where members had discussed shifting the ceremonies, and said “the depth of feeling was actually very moving… it helped me learn more about actually how difficult this time of the year is for many Aboriginal people.”

But the majority voted to put it out for comment so his foreshadowed motion didn’t get a full hearing. 

Cr Lorna Clarke said given the depth of feeling often prompted by discussion around January 26, the council should take a firm stance against racist comments during the consultation, which she said were particularly common in social media comments.


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