Elder welcomes too costly for council

Portrait of bride and groom by church
Portrait of bride and groom by church

The City invites an elder to the Australia Day citizenship ceremony every year, at a cost of $500.

At a proposed negotiated fee of $250 per appearance, the City would need a budget of $6250 to have an elder at all 22 council meetings.

While this has been dubbed ‘prohibitively expensive’, City officers have recommended the council approve a motion to allocate $2500 to ensure an elder is present at all of the City’s 10 annual citizenship ceremonies.

Of 14 councils surveyed by officers, only the City of Vincent has an Aboriginal elder attend all of its citizenship ceremonies.

Officers have recommended that instead of hiring an elder to perform a Welcome to Country, an acknowledgement of country be read by a councillor at meetings, using the words: ‘It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all here and before commencing the proceedings, I would like to acknowledge that we come together tonight on the traditional land of the Nyoongah people’.

The City’s councillors have also been asked to approve a $2000 allocation to erect a flagpole bearing the Aboriginal flag, which will be permanently raised outside the City’s administration building.

Kwinana has a higher population of Aboriginal residents than many other local government areas.

In the 2011 Census, 1142 people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent lived in Kwinana ” 3.8 per ent of the population.

Councillors were due to vote on the recommendations at Wednesday’s council meeting, after the Courier went to press.

Local elder Trevor Walley was contacted for comment.