Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Third SA council scraps welcome to country

South Australia’s Naracoorte Lucindale Council has voted to replace an Acknowledgement of Country with a “more inclusive” statement for Council meeting processes.

Councillors voted 6-4 in favour of scrapping the welcome to country.

It is the third South Australian council to remove the acknowledgement, following moves by Northern Areas Council and the City of Playford Council.

Under the new arrangement, Mayor, Patrick Ross (pictured) will begin council meetings with the following statement:

“We acknowledge and respect our complex history. We welcome everyone to build our future together.”

Mr Ross told Sky News Australia the Council wanted to keep words spoken prior to the start of meetings “inclusive”, “unambiguous” and “simple”.

“It’s got nothing to do with racism of First Nations people,” he said.

“Welcome could be as simple as ‘welcome’. It was clear to me that everything we do as a council should be inclusive.”

In an online post, Reconciliation SA CEO, Jason Downs said the Council’s decision reflected a “lack of awareness and understanding”.

“Reconciliation SA are deeply disappointed the majority of elected members of the council have voted to replace their Acknowledgement to country,” Mr Downs wrote.

“When you remove Acknowledgements to Country and Elders, you remove visibility and you diminish the importance of First Nations in our country’s 65,000 year history.

“Naracoorte Lucindale Council has branded itself as the heart of the Limestone coast and it would appear the heart has skipped a beat and does not reflect the spirit of the region in engaging First Nations people, increasing economic opportunities and engaging in tourism. 

“Erasing the existence of a culture to keep things simple is not a good position for a region that relies on tourism nor a reflection on global awareness and embracing of the ESG framework for future investment and growth.”

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