A BUSSELTON resident said he was shocked to find out the City of Busselton did not acknowledge country at the start of every council meeting.
Christopher DeSira said he was so outraged he started an online petition asking the mayor and his deputy to start acknowledging country at council meetings.
Mr DeSira said it was a good first step towards reconciliation with Aboriginal people and was done regularly at state and federal levels.
He said acknowledgement of country was a way people could show awareness of Aboriginal culture and heritage and the ongoing relationship traditional custodians have with their land.
“It needs to change,” he said.
“It's about respect and it’s a good first step for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians to come together and eventually reconcile.”
Mark Hutchins from the Wardandi Aboriginal Centre said as we lose elders over time it was important to maintain cultural based education and heritage.
He said it would be a positive step for the City to acknowledge country at the start of council meetings and to have elders represented on the council.
“They are landowners and rate payers who have been in the area for a long time and should have more of a say,” he said.
Busselton Dunsborough Greens spokesperson Michael Baldock also said it was time steps towards reconciliation were made at a local level.
“Acknowledgement of the Wardandi people at the start of council meetings takes little time but represents an effort to bring our community together”, he said.
“It’s performed at our schools’ assemblies and it is time it is also performed at council meetings.
“This is one small move towards the ultimate goal where we can all join together and truly share in the prosperity that we enjoy in our part of the world.”
Mayor Ian Stubbs said the council had made a more determined effort to include a Welcome to Country Ceremony or acknowledgement of traditional landowners at community events, openings and functions.
“Particularly when there are visitors to the area,” he said.
Mr Stubbs said this was done out of respect and was a great opportunity to educate people about Australia’s history and customs of the traditional landowners.
He said the council had discussed acknowledging traditional landowners at ordinary council meetings and decided to do this during NADOC week and other times that were significant to Indigenous people.
“It would not be done routinely at every ordinary meeting this may change in the future,” he said.
If you would like to sign Mr DeSira’s petition go to change.org/p/city-of-busselton-council-mayor-ian-stubbs-ian-stubbs-grant-grant-henley-busselton-council-acknowledge-country-now.