Anzac retreat

A SPLIT Perth council has decided not to force the Returned and Services League to include Aboriginal people in its Anzac Day ceremonies in order to access bonus funding. 

Last week council staff recommended the RSL be given $100,000 funding for Anzac Day, and proposed an $10,000 extra “conditional upon the delivery of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion considerations including engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples” (Voice, February 19, 2022).

The RSL’s had a shaky history on Aboriginal inclusion and for many years refused to fly Aboriginal flags or allow Welcome to Countries at Anzac Day ceremonies. 

But deputy mayor Di Bain opposed the diversity incentive plan, arguing at the February 22 meeting: “We should be respectful of the sanctity of this important event, and encourage inclusivity and not dictate it via cash carrots.”

She also proposed giving the RSL $98,000 in cash as well as having the city paying for $51,000 of “in-kind” expenses. 

That covers expenses like traffic management which has become a huge impost in recent years due to new requirements for “hostile vehicle” barriers in case of terrorism attacks. 

A majority of councillors agreed with Cr Bain’s plan, outvoting lord mayor Basil Zempilas and Crs Sandy Anghie and Catherine Lezer.

They’ll still ask the RSL to do their best to include Aboriginal people, just without a cash incentive. 

by DAVID BELL

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