WIMMERA leaders believe Australia Day should focus on respect – regardless of the date.
Barengi Gadjin Land Council executive officer Brett Harrison said the land council had remained neutral on its position – at a board and community level – on whether Australia Day should be moved to another date.
He said the land council was a representative group of the Indigenous people.
“There are Indigenous people who are all for Australia Day and others who aren't,” he said.
“It’s a personal view of each individual and to say the council has a stance would be ignoring the diverse views of the Indigenous community.”
Mr Harrison said Australian history was forgotten and people were under the impression the country was discovered.
He said people often forgot history because Australia Day has been modernised.
Horsham Mayor Pam Clarke said a change in date was a federal government decision.
However, she said the municipality was fortunate to have a positive relationship with the Indigenous community.
“We have talked to the Aboriginal Advisory Committee about Australia Day and they do not have strong feelings, but others do have other opinions,” she said.
“Their opinions are just as diverse as our opinions. I just feel that we are all Australians and we should respect each other regardless.”
Regardless of the date, Cr Clarke said Australia Day should focus on respect.
“As Australians, we should respect that we are all Australians – regardless of where we have come from or if we are original inhabitants of this beautiful country,” she said.
“You have to greatly respect our Indigenous community. They have an amazing culture and we can do so much more to understand it and respect it for the wonderful heritage that it has and the diversity in the Indigenous community.”
She said it was important to continue the Australia Day date debate with an objective perspective.
“When we are debating this issue, it needs to be done in an objective way – not with venom or prejudice. It’s important that the debate continues and as a white Australian, I believe it needs to come from our original inhabitants asking for the date to be changed,” she said.
Yarriambiack Shire Mayor Graeme Massey said personally, he believed people should celebrate Australia Day on a specific date.
“We are in a situation where we are very Australian centric – waving the flag, barbecues, thongs, bush activities – and we are bigger than that now,” he said.