Grieving parents appeal to City of Joondalup for permit to install memorial plaque

Annica and Lanre Odina want to install a plaque in the hut behind them, where their son Daniel’s backpack was found shortly before they discovered he had died.  Picture: Martin Kennealey        www.communitypix.com.au   d446522
Grieving parents appeal to City of Joondalup for permit to install memorial plaque
Annica and Lanre Odina want to install a plaque in the hut behind them, where their son Daniel’s backpack was found shortly before they discovered he had died. Picture: Martin Kennealey        www.communitypix.com.au d446522

Four months ago, the couple’s 24-year-old son Daniel was reported missing when he did not return to his Connolly family home after leaving about 8pm to go for a walk.

The next morning, his backpack was found at a hut on Iluka Beach and four days later, his body was found about 15 metres off the beach.

A week later, Daniel’s family and friends held a vigil at the beach hut.

“That’s when we understood just how much his sudden passing had also affected other people of all ages,” Mrs Odina said.

“Holding those young men and women in our arms, having them sobbing against our shoulders, made us realise the importance a place of remembrance has.”

Encouraged by Daniel’s friends, Mrs Odina applied to the City of Joondalup to install a memorial plaque at the hut but it was rejected.

Under the City’s Memorials in Public Reserves policy, adopted in 2009, community members can apply to install a memorial for a person who has significantly contributed to the community.

“Based on the information provided in the application, the City was unable to approve the request,” a council document said.

It said the application stated Daniel “reached out to people too different to be part of any community organisation and made a difference to those who were often forgotten and lonely”, was part of a peer group offering support to “young men from broken homes” and was a junior soccer coach.

Mrs Odina said she was astounded her application was rejected and it left her “no option” but to start a petition.

In two weeks, the Odinas collected more than 1000 signatures, of which 947 were City of Joondalup residents.

This Monday, councillors will vote on the plaque, which City officers have recommended for refusal.

“The application and subsequent petition “demonstrates the person was dedicated to the local community; however, it does not satisfy the conditions of the Memorials in Public Reserves policy,” a council document said.

Mrs Odina said the policy was antiquated and elitist.

“Why is one human’s life more worthy of remembering than another’s?” she asked.

“One thing I found interesting when collecting signatures was that no one asked ‘why do you want to put a plaque up in the beach hut’ but their question instead was ‘why do you have to ask permission to do such a simple thing?’

“The overwhelming opinion of the 1000-plus people we spoke to was that a request to place an unobtrusive plaque on an existing structure in memory of a life that was sadly lost should be granted quickly and easily.”

She said the proposed plaque, which the Odinas would pay for, would be about 15cm by 20cm and placed high up in the beach hut so as not to disturb wildlife or use of the beach and hut.

“The general need to have a memorial “is evident all around us; the white crosses along the roads where people died in car accidents, plaques on park benches and trees,” she said.

“It seems our wish is not unique but representative of a general human need to demonstrate that a loved one may be lost but certainly not forgotten.”

Friend Steve Laing said he was surprised to find out the Odinas were collecting signatures to install a plaque at the beach hut.

“This process seemed somewhat insensitive given the circumstances and the various visits with this petition were clearly upsetting to the Odinas,” he said.