Moreland City Council voted on March 10 to fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at half-mast each year on January 26 and National Sorry Day on May 26. It also decided to hold a Survival Day of Healing event each January 26.
Moreland council had widely consulted with and received strong support from local Traditional Owners, the Wurundjeri Council, as well as other local First Nations people.
It builds on council’s September 2017 decision to recognise that “January 26 marks the beginning of the British invasion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands and oppression of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.
That followed in the footsteps of Fremantle, Yarra and Darebin councils that had stopped recognising Australia Day in 2017. The federal government reacted by stripping Yarra and Darebin councils of their right to run citizenship ceremonies.
Glen Eira council began flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at half-mast this January 26.
Days after Moreland took its vote, Maribyrnong Council decided to do the same.
Djabwurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman and Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe, in the January 15 Age, described the grief Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders experience on January 26.
“A day of mourning is not a new idea, but it is an important one. On this day, the Aboriginal flag can be flown at half-mast, as befits a day of grief and remembrance. I’m inviting communities, councils and organisations across Australia to do just that.”
Moreland councillor and Socialist Alliance member Sue Bolton told Green Left that community understanding about colonialism has increased — seen in the growth of the Invasion Day marches.
“All levels of government must publically recognise that Australia was founded on the back of a genocidal war against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“Justice for First Nations peoples can only come after Australia recognises this dispossession and compensates communities for it.”