Wollongong City Council has renamed its annual citizen awards because calling them the "Australia Day Awards" was putting off people from entering.
Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the council and Australia Day Committee had decided to rename the awards to make them appeal to more people.
"The controversy around Australia Day has created a reticence of certain individuals and certain people who would otherwise apply," he said.
"So the idea was moving away from the Australia Day focus and just recognizing this as an opportunity to highlight the contribution people make in our city."
He said the new name - City of Wollongong Awards - was more inclusive and "accurately describes what these awards are really about".
"The City of Wollongong Awards, previously known as the Australia Day Awards, were always fundamentally about celebrating the people of our city," he said.
"People do extraordinary things every day of the year."
He said the awards would no longer be awarded on January 26 - which many Australians believe should not be celebrated due to its association with the invasion of indigenous land.
They would be presented a week before Australia Day, he said.
"We're still holding the event at the start of the year as we think it's a nice way to kick off 2024 by starting on a positive and inspiring note," he said.
Wollongong's 2023 Citizen of the Year Sally Stevenson, who campaigned strongly for the Yes vote during this year's referendum, said she was very supportive of the separation of the awards and Australia Day.
"We know that Australia Day is a very sad day, and a grieving day for many people in the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander community, and there's no need for awards that reflect and acknowledge Wollongong citizens to be on that day," she said.
"There are also a lot of the non-Indigenous population that want to respect that the history of colonisation has impacted so terribly on Aboriginal people - and that was reflected in Cunningham coming out as a Yes electorate [in the Voice vote].
"So I think it's really good just to have citizens recognised, and not for that to be conflated with Australia Day, because Australia Day for many people is not one to be celebrated."
Ms Stevenson said she hoped more people - especially indigenous residents - would be encouraged to nominate for the awards thanks to the change.
The council said it still planned to hold an Australia Day event on January 26, which will be similar to the 2023 event with fireworks and family-friendly activities.
Shellharbour council still awards an Australia Day Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year.
The way many councils mark Australia Day has been shifting in recent years, with the Australian Government this year allowing them not to hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26 for the first time.
Many companies - including the University of Wollongong - have started giving their employees the opportunity to take a public holiday on a different date to recognise the disagreements about Australia's national day.
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