One vote separated the decision by Strathbogie Shire Councillors for Council to maintain its current role in conducting ceremonies on January 26 at an Extraordinary Council Meeting on Tuesday June 28, 2022.
The decision comes after Strathbogie Shire Council’s May Council Meeting when Council resolved to undertake community consultation on two different options relating to Council’s role on January 26.
Option one removed Council’s formal support for celebrations on January 26 and option two continued the current arrangements.
A robust engagement report was presented to Councillors and several community members spoke to their submissions at the Extraordinary Council Meeting.
Based on a single vote per IP address, the results indicated that 46 per cent of respondents voted for option one and 54 per cent voted for option two.
Twenty-nine written submissions were also received. Of these, 12 were in support of option one, six were in support of option two and 11 provided alternative views or information.
An officer recommendation was put to Council to note the community feedback received and to continue to celebrate January 26 in 2023 as per existing arrangements, acknowledging that some communities will choose not to undertake such events.
In addition, the recommendation proposed to utilise an independent consultant to undertake a deliberative engagement process with participants for the Community Panel to be recruited by the consultant, reflecting the diversity of our community.
A motion was put forward by Cr Chris Raeburn which removed the additional points to undertake deliberative engagement that were included in the recommendation.
Four Councillors voted for the motion and three voted against, which resulted in Council’s current role around January 26 to remain the same in 2023.
A division was called noting Crs Raeburn, Dickinson, Hourigan and Andrews voted for the motion and Crs Hayes-Burke, Murray and Binks voted against the motion.
Strathbogie Shire Council Cr Mayor Laura Binks thanked the community for their contributions during the engagement process which resulted in robust conversations around a complex issue.
“Council’s aim by opening up the conversation around traditional Australia Day celebrations was to be inclusive, respectful, and to recognise the significance of the day to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, in line with our Memorandum of Understanding with the Taungurung Land and Waters Council,” Cr Binks said.
“We understand the community has many opinions and thoughts as was reflected in the results of our engagement report.
“While Council will not undertake any further engagement with the community for the commemorations of January 26 for 2023, we know conversations have begun and encourage discussions to continue to ensure our community members are well-informed.
“I wish to thank the community for its participation in the engagement process.”