CENTRAL Victorians have been urged to reflect on all aspects of the country's long and enduring history dating back thousands of years, during Australia Day events held across the region on Wednesday.
Bendigo's main Australia Day event - organised by the Rotary Club of Bendigo Sandhurst, was shifted from its traditional location at Lake Weeroona to the grounds of the Bendigo Jockey Club in keeping with the current COVID-19 protocols.
Meanwhile, in Castlemaine a large crowd gathered in the town's central Victory Park for an event billed as a family-friendly community event to acknowledge Australia Day - Survival Day in the Mount Alexander Shire.
In major cities there were protests and demonstrations, where like in Castlemaine, Australians gathered in solidarity with Indigenous people.
Against the backdrop of those events, a new poll determined approximately 60 per cent of respondents backed either changing the date, or keeping the day but also establishing a separate day to recognise Indigenous people.
However, the figures were reversed among young people, with 64 per cent viewing January 26 as Invasion Day.
Across the nation, Australia Day commemorations, including citizenship ceremonies, smoking ceremonies, concerts and even aerial fly pasts were held as residents looked at ways to mark January 26.
Crowds were reportedly down in Bendigo, a circumstance attributable at least in part to the pandemic and the hot, humid weather that has settled over regional Victoria this week.
"Today is a day for optimism and positivity about the great country we're all blessed to live in," he told reporters, but he declined to answer questions following the frosty reception he received from outgoing Australian of the Year Grace Tame during a reception at The Lodge on Tuesday.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese did not state whether the date of Australia Day should change, but did pledge to recognise Indigenous people in the constitution. "We've continued to develop as a multicultural nation and evolve and we need to continue to do that into the future," he said.
"In order to do that, we need to recognise that our history goes back at least 60,000 years.
"It's important we're able to have conversations about Australia's future direction.
"I know there are tough days - we've wept with people, we've comforted people - but we are at heart a good people," he said.
"Not afraid of hard work, we're creative, we're innovative, and we can take on anything. We're the product of our past, and the sum of each of our individual stories ... (and) that, I believe, is worth celebrating here on Australia Day."
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