COCKBURN council won’t be moving its Australia Day ceremonies from January 26.
At Thursday’s ordinary meeting, councillors voted to drop recommendations from a new Reconciliation Action Plan that would commit the city to changing its Coogee Beach festival to another date because the majority of its indigenous residents see January 26 as a day of sadness.
Deputy mayor Lee-Anne Smith moved the amendments that killed off the change.
Cr Smith said despite her own desire to see the date changed, there were many in the community who disagreed and their input hadn’t been sought before the change was put before the council.
“Whether true, or perceived, there is a growing belief across the city that the city’s consultation process is flawed,” Cr Smith told the meeting.
“Before we consider the way forward, there is so much more work that needs to be done in terms of raising awareness of the fraught symbolism of January 26.
“It’s a matter for the federal government, and it’s a matter for the wider Cockburn community to decide.”
Cr Smith said it was unfortunate that the adoption of the reconciliation plan had been overshadowed by the Australia Day debate.
It has 26 recommendations including working towards a cultural centre, improve consultation with the Aboriginal community, increase diversity training, develop an Aboriginal employment policy which would ensure qualified Aborigines would get shortlisted, and create mentoring opportunities.
by STEVE GRANT