Council's solution to Australia Day controversy: 'Something for everyone'

The council has given residents a choice of when they can celebrate the national day.

As calls to change the date of the divisive public holiday continue, one local council has taken a novel approach to accommodating its residents varied views on Australia Day.

Adelaide City Council will hold its celebrations of the national day over two days, giving residents the chance to celebrate the national day when they choose.

Yahoo News Australia has confirmed it was the first council to hold celebrations over two days, starting the practice last year, with Swan Hill Rural City Council in country Victoria announcing it will do the same for the first time this year.

The Aus Lights 2024 program, run by the Australia Day Council of South Australia (ADCSA) and supported by the State Government and Adelaide City Council will involve a range of activities for families and people of all ages and has been planned with consultation from the area's First Nations people. The event runs across 25th and leads into the morning of the 26th.

Organiser says they're expecting more than 33,000 people to enjoy the two day celebration.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 23:  A view of the Elder Park Rotunda, Adelaide Oval and the River Torrens. General views of Adelaide on August 23, 2015 in Adelaide, Australia.  (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)
Adelaide's Elder Park will host the 2024 Aus Lights Program again.

Something for everyone at two-day event

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, ADCSA CEO Jan Chorley said it's the second year the council are holding the free event over two days.

"We have consulted widely with the Australian community, business leaders and with our First Nations community," she said.

"They've signed off on this beautiful program that commences on the 25th and leads into the morning of the 26th.

Chorley said the decision has been First Nations led and has been curated and shaped by those communities and that they are very proud of it.

Consultation with First Nations communities

Elder Park in Adelaide will transform into an immersive, visually-engaging light, vision and sound installation inspired by creative visions of belonging to country and connecting to nature. There will be fireworks on both nights at 9.30pm and plenty for children aged four to eight with music and Australian wildlife encounters.

Two children wearing Australian flag hats, hold up Australian flags.
Two children celebrating Australia Day in Adelaide city. Source: Getty

In consultation with First Nations communities, a Mourning in the Morning Smoking Ceremony was held on the January 26 with more than 3,200 people in attendance. The event marks the day 235 years ago when the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove – and "the lives of the continent’s First Nations peoples changed forever".

Chorley said: "It gives a voice, it gives a deep sense of listening and respect to our First Nations people. It's an opportunity for them to share their stories, artistry and their hopes for the future of our nation."

"There's elements right across the board that there's something in all of this for everyone," she said.

While many local councils have scrapped citizenship ceremonies on January 26th, The City of Adelaide will go ahead with the event.

Survival Day rallies attract thousands

While many Australians will still be celebrating Australia Day on January 26, thousands will also stand in solidarity with First Nations people and attend Survival Day rallies across the country.

More than 1,500 people have said they're attending the rally in Adelaide at Tarntanyangga or Victoria Square.

Organiser Natasha Wanganeen, who is also an actress, has been behind the rally in Adelaide for the past two years and is calling on residents to come together and support First Nations people.

The Survival Day rally recognises January 26 as a day of mourning and urges political leaders to change the date of Australia Day.

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