Day of respect dawns in Australian regions

A regional Victorian community decided years ago that small gestures to respect Indigenous people on Australia Day were not enough.

In 2018 the Mount Alexander region, south of Bendigo, gave its January 26 events a dual name: Australia Day - Survival Day.

Dja Dja Wurrung elders including Uncle Rick Nelson led the change, and the day becomes more poignant each year, Mayor Rosie Annear said.

"It was time to do something, token gestures weren't going to be enough," Ms Annear said of the event's origins.

"When council had its first dual names day, it was beautiful and that's only grown in strength and genuineness over the last four years.

"So much of that is to do with the bravery of Uncle Rick."

A concert in Castlemaine featuring First Nations performers will be among Thursday's events, part of a growing national movement to change the way Australia Day is observed.

The City of Sydney voted to hold citizenship ceremonies on January 27, while Hobart City Council will hold events either side of January 26 from next year.

Griffith City Council in southwest NSW is supporting the Local Aboriginal Land Council's event, which will share stories of survival and knowledge through musical performances.

Traditional owners in Victoria's Surf Coast region have collaborated with council for reflection and storytelling during a dawn ceremony at Torquay.

In Ballarat, the council describes the Koorie Engagement Action Group's survival day dawn ceremony as one of the city's "most momentous days".

"We fully acknowledge that January 26 is an incredibly difficult day for many people, and it is absolutely crucial we never forget that," Mayor Des Hudson said.

Dubbo Regional Council in central west NSW moved its events in the town of Wellington to Wednesday evening to respect its Indigenous community and attract more crowds in the cooler part of the day.

Local Talisa Stanley went to the event with several members of her family.

Ms Stanley said she gets frustrated by comments that Australia Day is "just a day".

"If it's just a day, then change it," she said.

Dubbo councillor Pam Wells, a Tubba-Gah woman of the Wiradjuri nation, said Wellington's move to January 25 was significant in the lead-up to a referendum on enshrining an Indigenous voice to parliament in the constitution.

"Now is the opportunity to start planting those seeds across our communities, having the conversation and understanding what a yes or no vote is," Ms Wells told AAP.

"We respect people's choice as long as they understand and are educated and have the opportunity to make an informed choice."

In late December, the federal government relaxed regulations to allow ceremonies to be held between January 23 and 29.

Ms Wells said she is optimistic about the future of Australia Day.

"I've got big dreams and big hopes for a much stronger cultural lens in the regions around connecting with Aboriginal people and making sure the voice is loud and heard and respected."