South West councils sound off on Australia Day debate, most “open to feedback”

Holly PrenticeSouth Western Times
City of Bunbury mayor Jaysen Miguel said the council was open to feedback regarding Australia Day festivities.
Camera IconCity of Bunbury mayor Jaysen Miguel said the council was open to feedback regarding Australia Day festivities. Credit: Image supplied

The majority of South West councils are open to changes around Australia Day celebrations, though two councils refused to make any comment.

More than 80 councils across Australia have made changes to the way they celebrate January 26, such as moving citizenship ceremonies after requests from Indigenous communities.

City of Bunbury mayor Jaysen Miguel said it was up to the Federal Government to change the date of Australia Day, however the Bunbury council would act as a reflection of the majority and he is “always open to feedback from the community”.

“It’s all about learning, just looking at what’s happening and what we can do to make sure as a council we’re representing a community as a whole,” he said.

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“We have an open door, we want to hear what’s going on, we’re going to take everyone’s views on board . . . so if people don’t feel safe or feel right about what’s going on, we want to hear from them.”

Dardanup Shire president Tyrrell Gardiner said the shire would still be running events and are open to any feedback on changing the names of events.

“While we currently hold events, including citizenship ceremonies, on Australia Day, we also acknowledge the ongoing dialogue around the date and are open to engaging with our residents to ensure our approach reflects the sentiments of our broader community,” he said.

“The Shire of Dardanup remains open to constructive conversations about the naming and events associated with January 26.

“We are attentive to the evolving conversation on the significance of the date and its impact on different segments of our community.”

Dardanup Shire president Tyrrell Gardiner.
Camera IconDardanup Shire president Tyrrell Gardiner. Credit: Paul Webster

The City of Busselton released a statement last week stating the city was keeping its established plans until directed to by the Federal Government.

“Through the city’s reconciliation action plan the city has and will continue to work with the Aboriginal community, growing in respect for cultural acknowledgement and awareness of Aboriginal people as the traditional custodians,” Busselton mayor Phill Cronin said.

“The city appreciates the generous contributions made by the many Aboriginal organisations and key Aboriginal people in the community who have given so freely of their time, their thoughts, contributions and feedback.”

On the other side of the debate, Collie Shire president Ian Miffling firmly gave no indication of changing or altering any part of Australia Day activities.

“The matter of whether or not Collie Shire council has a mind to change current Australia Day activities has not been raised at all, not by the council itself or members of the Collie community so for as far as I’m concerned Collie will continue with activities on Australia Day until or unless any changes are invoked,” he said.

“Whilst there is no appetite for change I would think the council will continue as is.”

 Collie Shire president Ian Miffling.
Camera Icon Collie Shire president Ian Miffling. Credit: Teagen Lasisz

The Shire of Harvey and the Shire of Capel were contacted, but both refused to comment.

The Shire of Harvey last year made headlines after it decided to review their acknowledgement of country, during which Cr Craig Carbone said welcome to country and acknowledgement of country was doing the “Aboriginal cause” harm as the Australian public was “sick of it”.

The bid to reject the welcome to country was ultimately scrapped.

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