Australia Day 2021: Local councils reveal their plans
It's the date that divides the nation, and this year COVID-19 is complicating matters further.
As the government pushes for councils to hold Australia Day celebrations amid the pandemic, Coffs Harbour and Bellingen Shire councils have revealed their plans to the Advocate.
Bellingen Shire Council, which recently took home the AR Bluett Memorial Award for most progressive rural council, will not hold a ceremony on Australia Day for the third year in a row.
Instead, a council spokesperson said it is supporting the Urunga Lions Club to hold a "very small" Australia Day Awards program on January 24.
In late 2018 councillors voted to change the date of the 2019 awards, following the likes of Byron Shire Council in a decision that prompted PM Scott Morrison to describe it as "indulgent self-loathing" on Twitter.
In 2019 a new event was launched in the Bellingen Shire in the beachside village of Urunga dubbed 'People's Day'.
Held on Australia Day, the event acts as an inclusive celebration and a remembrance service for Indigenous Australians.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic however, the event will not go ahead in 2021.
Meanwhile, Coffs Harbour City Council revealed Coffs' inclusive Australia Day event celebrating Indigenous culture, Saltwater Freshwater Festival will also not be going ahead in 2021.
A COVID-safe citizenship and awards ceremony will be held at the North Coast Botanic Garden on January 26.
A council spokesperson said nearly 100 residents will be become citizens on the day, which will have numbers capped.
Pre-registration is required for the ceremony, and priority will be given to family and friends of those receiving their citizenship or award nominees.
NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres this week sent a message to councils across the state to hold the ceremonies, but in a "COVID-safe way".
"It's a fantastic opportunity to be able to welcome people as citizens of Australia … it's something I would encourage councils to do," he said.