Karl Stefanovic: Australia Day 'must change' out of respect
TODAY show's Karl Stefanovic strongly supported a Melbourne council's move to become the first in the nation to stop holding citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day out of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Yarra City councillors voted on Tuesday night to stop referring to January 26 as Australia Day and to cease holding any citizenship ceremonies on that day from 2018.
Despite pressure from the federal government against such a move, all councillors voted unanimously.
Stefanovic agreed with the decision and said the day represented the time Australia changed forever.
"There is an argument in this country for Australia Day to be moved. What do you think? My initial response is what many would think ... 'cmon, leave it alone. Indigenous and Torres Strait islanders, this is our day, all of us. Everyone come together. Commemorate but also celebrate. After all, that's what we do on Anzac Day," he said.
"But I've changed my mind. Having spoken to several people from those communities, I empathise. As hard as some want to ignore it, January 26 marks a day this land changed forever for one of the oldest and most beautiful cultures in the world.
"To this day, mortality rates for indigenous and Torres Strait islanders are alarming. It wasn't until March 1962 the Menzies government finally gave the right to vote for all aboriginal people.
"We look back at the horror of the Stolen Generation ... Earlier in the 20th century, the White Australia Policy, then we look at what happened in Tasmania.
"They are all facts and all incredibly painful. If we are to truly follow through with the apology and move forward together hand in hand, arm in arm, then I believe it must change. So lets do it together. Certainly let's debate it together."
All clauses passed unamended in the Yarra City Council meeting, despite some fiery submissions from a few people in the audience who said the council hadn't surveyed the community widely enough
Councillor Mi-Lin Chen Yi Mei, who brought the motion forward, said it was an important move because the day was not inclusive.
"It's really an opportunity to engage with the community and to educate them on indigenous affairs," she told the meeting.