MORNINGTON Peninsula councillors have rejected the “divisive” suggestion that the Aboriginal flag be flown at half-mast on Australia Day.
In doing so, they chose to not show the braveness urged by Cr Sarah Race to “symbolise that it is a day of mourning of our First Nations people”.
Cr Race said she will “walk as an ally” with Aboriginal individuals following a “mourning ceremony” on Wednesday 26 January.
She said Indigenous Australians had regarded 26 January as a day of mourning since 1938 and would never think about it a celebration.
“And right here we are in 2021, nonetheless not recognising today as the day of mourning for our First Nations people, and still with unresolved intergenerational trauma,” Cr Race advised council’s 14 December assembly.
“The nationwide flag will nonetheless fly totally and therefore doesn’t take away the day for individuals in our community who like to celebrate today for the many reasons they prefer to celebrate our wonderful country.”
Cr Race stated deciding to lower the Aboriginal flag “will take braveness … as a result of we understand that not everybody in this neighborhood is ready to recognise the complexity of 26 January”.
She quoted from the e-book Courage is Calling, by self-described media strategist Ryan Holliday: “You can’t let worry rule because there has by no means been a person that did one thing that mattered with out annoying other folks. There has by no means been a change that has not been met with doubts. There has never been a motion that was not mocked.”
Cr Race mentioned reconciliation was not going to be simple or enjoyable. “It is going to be an enormous, bumpy highway … and we’re all going to be confronted by some horrible truths”.
Councillors voted 7:4 against lowering the Aboriginal flag however signalled that further makes an attempt at unity and reconciliation can be made in the lead up next year’s Australia Day.
Cr Susan Bissinger felt “very uncomfortable and quite disturbed that a non-Aboriginal person [Cr Race] would search support from the Bunurong Land Council for such a divisive action”.
“This is a giant choice and in-your-face type of remark, and I thought [council’s] reconciliation motion plan was to convey individuals more together, not to divide them aside,” she stated.
“I see flying a flag at half-mast as being divisive.
“I’ve grown up around Aboriginal communities and I’m probably not comfortable with the thought of non-Aboriginal individuals dictating the greatest way they really feel and encouraging [them] in methods they perhaps would not go on their own.”
Cr Bissinger would have supported lowering the Aboriginal flag “if it was instigated by them”.
“I assume we have 1200 Aboriginal individuals on the peninsula – that will have grown – but to have that many individuals and not a whisper from them … I can’t perceive it really being that much of a sticking point for them.
“I still have hopes that Australia Day incorporates a sombre part of our history that we can’t ignore … we don’t have to keep apologising for something that has nothing to do with the current situation.”
Cr Steve Holland stated official flag protocols acknowledged that flags “should be flown at full mast on Australia Day”.
Cr Debra Mar said the Bunurong Land Council had not replied to her several makes an attempt to seek its views about lowering the flag.
“I’m questioning why the land council has not requested the flag be flown at half-mast,” she said, and urged council to arrange talks to attain a “smoother transition to reconciliation”.
Cr David Gill suggested that First Nations people didn’t need to “come and ask or beg for that type of assist. They simply want recognition”.
Cr Gill requested that none of his colleagues name for a division – an official report of who voted for or towards reducing the Aboriginal flag – “because that’s the problem”.
“I know everyone on this room supports First Nations, it’s a distinction of opinion whether or not or not we raise of decrease the flag,” he said.
Lowering the flag was a “symbol of our assist, of things that happened prior to now, and recognition. Without giving too much or making it heavier, I think we will get via these things and help”.
Cr Lisa Dixon mentioned it was “with a heavy heart” that she could not support decreasing the Aboriginal flag on Australia Day.
She accused the media of including to confusion by not reflecting that the debate within council was about decreasing solely the Aboriginal flag.
“Media sources can not all the time be trusted, they are solely happy with headlines that sell information and are not involved about fallout from selected wording,” Cr Dixon stated.
(The first paragraph in The News’s merchandise “Flag protocols fly at half-mast” on 14/12/21 said: “MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors are being requested to fly the Aboriginal flag at half-mast on shire buildings on Australia Day subsequent yr, 26 January.”)
Cr Dixon stated deciding about reducing the Aboriginal flag “before discussion with our broader group isn’t OK”.
She had been “saddened” to hear to Cr Race tell the earlier day’s council briefing about her “many discussions” with the Aboriginal neighborhood about lowering the flag. “When was the inclusion of her colleagues?”
Cr Dixon stated councillors ought to “not let fear rule”, vote towards decreasing the Aboriginal flag this yr, “and consider methods of going ahead to January 2023”.
Cr Antonella Celi mentioned lowering the flag on Australia Day was an “emotional and delicate matter to be debating brazenly and publicly”.
She wanted to send a message to the Bunurong people – “our sacred individuals of the Mornington Peninsula” – that councillors “have you in our hearts” and have been considering a flag flying protocol.
“Australia Day is a day once we come collectively for a celebration and a sense of satisfaction,” Cr Celi mentioned.
Cr Despi O’Connor stated First Nations folks “have endured a lot trauma and loss proper across our country” since 1788 when Europeans landed at Sydney Cove.
“I see this action as a move ahead, a chance to offer recognition and permit fact telling from First Nations individuals,” she said. “It is our time to pay attention, not talk.”
Cr Kerri McCafferty, who seconded Cr Race’s motion to fly the Aboriginal flag at half-mast, stated the national flag could be flown full mast, “unaffected”.
“Let us acknowledge historical past for what it’s. … Let us accept that sovereignty wasn’t ceded and that things have occurred that I am personally ashamed of … I would love for us to return together and be unified.
“Respect is about listening and, up to now, for the last 83 years, we haven’t listened properly.”
Cr McCafferty stated “times and sentiment” have been changing, and unity couldn’t be achieved “if we keep ignoring voices which are requesting it”.
First revealed within the Southern Peninsula News – 11 January 2022