Indigenous cultural festival replaces Australia Day

Inner West Council, New South Wales, is encouraging its community to attend the Yabun Festival this year on 26 January, to celebrate and learn about the history of the world’s oldest, continuous, human civilisation.

Council has voted to move all celebratory events other than the citizenship ceremony away from the controversial date.

The celebration in Enmore Park will become a summer children’s and families’ festival, and along with the Citizen of the Year awards, will move to a different date.

Mayor, Darcy Byrne, said the move was about recognising that 26 January was a day that represented sadness for many Aboriginal Australians.

“It’s a small but respectful act of recognition, the right thing to do.

“Attitudes towards 26 January are changing in the community. For Aboriginal people, the date represents the beginning of colonisation, dispossession, the removal of children and deliberate destruction of language and culture. A growing number of Australians want that to be respectfully acknowledged.

“In the Inner West we are choosing to change the nature of the day to one of commemoration not celebration.

The move has been supported by Reconciliation New South Wales.

“Our community will not be losing anything, but we will be marking the day in a more mature and thoughtful way.

“We think the focus of 26 January should be Yabun, a large Aboriginal-run festival that’s on the edge of the Inner West Council area. We don’t want to have a festival competing with that event.”

For the past two years, Inner West Council has worked on bringing forward meaningful and detailed polices to empower Aboriginal people in the Inner West including adopting Aboriginal names for Inner West Council wards, and becoming the first government in Australia to fly the South Sea Islander Flag.