The RSL from Western Australia has reversed its decision to ban the flying of the Aboriginal flag and the execution of the Welcome to Country ritual at Anzac ceremonies, after being labeled ‘ignorant’ and ‘racist’.
The state branch announced the new policy on Friday and said that all performances during Anzac and Remembrance Day events, except the New Zealand anthem, should be in English.
“Although RSLWA has the greatest respect for the traditional landowners on which such sites and memorials are located, it is not appropriate for a Welcome to Country to be used on sites specifically established to pay homage to those who died and those of a wide range of cultural backgrounds, “according to the policy.
The move was fiercely criticized by members of the public, including Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, who called it “regrettable and divided.”
RSLWA has reversed its decision to ban the flying of the Aboriginal flag and the execution of the Welcome to Country rite at the Anzac ceremonies and the Memorial Day after widespread recoil
An Anzac Day service in Fremantle, WA. Some RSLWA members complained that an Aboriginal elder read the Ode of Remembrance in the Noongar language at the Fremantle service last year
THE NEW RSLWA POLICY
- All content, except for the New Zealand anthem, is presented or sung in English
- Only the Australia, New Zealand and WA flags may be flown
- No welcome at Country and / or Recognition of Country ceremonies
- Respecting the right of regal, vice-regal and government representatives to use Land Recognition but not in the dawn service or services at recognized war memorials
* John McCourt, CEO of RSLWA, withdrew the new police on Sunday due to the widespread backlash
“I suggest they reconsider. Right away, “he tweeted.
“It is worth noting that our New Zealand partners embrace the language of their indigenous peoples during the Anzac Day ceremonies. We have to do the same. “
RSLWA CEO John McCourt issued a statement on Sunday that the policy has been destroyed because of the widespread backlash.
“Given the level of social responses to RSLWA’s advisory policy on cultural issues related to commemoration, this policy has now been withdrawn,” according to a statement according to the ABC.
“RSLWA is concerned that its position on the subject has unfortunately led to misunderstandings of its intention.
Angered Australians have put down the decision as “disgustingly racist” on the RSLWA’s Facebook page
“RSLWA values and respects the Australian indigenous community and, in particular, indigenous veterans.
“RSLWA accepts that the policy may be open to incorrect interpretation.”
“The advisory policy will be reviewed and re-launched in the near future after further dialogue with interested parties.”
Earlier, Mr. McCourt explained that the new policy was a response to complaints from RSLWA members.
Aboriginal elder professor Len Collard read the Ode of Remembrance in the Noongar language during an Anzac Day dawn service in Fremantle last year.
Some RSLWA members complained to the board that Professor Collard did not perform the ritual in English, which resulted in controversial new policy.
Veteran affairs Minister Peter Tinley, who is a veteran, said that Aboriginals wore the uniform for 87 years before they were even counted as Australians.
: People gather in Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance to pay their respects during the dawn service of the ANZAC day in Melbourne in 2018
“The RSL is wrong and I am shocked that they would be so prescriptive these days,” he told reporters.
‘This really hurts, it really touches the heart of reconciliation.
“I do not accept the concept that First Nation Australians, who have occupied this country for 50,000 years without interruption, have been tagged in a multicultural bucket … they have a very special part of our story.”
Prime Minister Mark McGowan also strongly urged RSLWA to reconsider.
The outrage continued on social media, where Australians had deposited the decision as “disgustingly racist” on the RSLWA Facebook page.
“How disgustingly racist of you! You should be ashamed of yourself, “wrote a man from Perth.
Another man said: “We gather on Aboriginal land. Always has been, always will be. ”
The outrage continued on Twitter, where people were upset by the ‘step back’ from RSLWA.
“As an Australian veteran I can say with certainty that the RSLWA does not represent me. This is disgraceful racism and contrary to ADF values and practices, “a man said.
An Aboriginal education advisor wrote: ‘Another day in WA, while RSLWA bans the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at ANZAC and Remembrance Day services. You refused to acknowledge when the crowd served and now you continue to refuse to acknowledge us. ”