Plans to include other religions in City of Perth Christmas celebrations

The Christmas lights trail in Perth city during the festive season.
The Christmas lights trail in Perth city during the festive season.

CHRISTMAS in the city may soon include religions other than Christianity.

The City of Perth is considering incorporating other religions as part of its cultural development plan for 2019 to 2029.

The plan was endorsed by City Commissioners in June and launched this week.

It aims to build Perth’s cultural identity through actions such as changing Christmas celebrations to “a more diverse offering that is meaningful for a wide demographic”.

“While Christianity is an important part of Perth’s cultural identity (46 per cent of Greater Perth demographic), the City of Perth’s current holiday season celebrations, which include a nativity scene at Council House, do not fully acknowledge or create a sense of belonging for the remaining 54 per cent, including 32 per cent who have no religion at all,” it said.

Chair Commissioner Andrew Hammond said the City was proud to present a festive program aimed at all people.

He said actions set out in the cultural plan were long-term visions.

“Feedback from our community focused on the need to reflect the city’s diversity and make sure our Christmas and New Year events and activities are representative and inclusive of Perth’s multicultural community,” he said.

“However, 46 per cent of our community are Christian and our celebrations will need to continue to reflect this demographic and acknowledge the important Christian origins of the holiday season, while also acknowledging other important cultural holidays and customs around this time of year.”

Mr Hammond said the City would look at a more diverse offering that had meaning for more people.

“This might not mean that a couple of religions will be represented, but rather looking at events that are holistically inclusive as a whole,” he said.

“Currently the Christmas Lights Trail remains as an inclusive and accessible event for the entire family, appealing to a wide range of ages, cultures and religions.”

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe said decisions on Christmas celebrations were for the council to make, “presumably after they have undertaken appropriate research to ascertain the wishes of the people which they represent”.

Mr Hammond said any significant changes to Christmas and New Year activities would happen after detailed consultation with the community.

Research for the plan found in 2016 54.7 per cent of Perth city residents were born overseas from 78 countries and 38.6 per cent of Perth city residents spoke a language other than English at home.