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Aboriginal “welcome” attacked as tokenism..

June 23, 2014

Four or five years ago, in my  innocent, pre-Grumpy days, I faced a barrage of public and private criticism when I called for an alteration to Unley  Council’s pre-meeting acknowledgement and welcome  to the Kaurna people as the “traditional owners of the land”.

Based on the possible  legal ramifications of an on-going challenge by the Ramindjeri people to the ownership claim, I successfully had the welcome’s wording  changed to identify the previous owners of the Adelaide plains by the inclusive title of “Aboriginal””.

And that’s how it has remained.

Now, from one of the nation’s most powerful Aboriginal leaders, Lowita O’Donoghue, a former Australian of the Year and a victim of the Stolen Generation, comes a call for a restriction on the  “Kaurna” welcome’s use at Adelaide City Council’s meetings..

“The welcome  is important, but in my mind it is done too often,”  she is quoted as saying. ” It’s gone over the top and this has gone on for a while now, with the use extended to conferences and events”.

Ms O’Donoghue is also quoted in the “Advertiser”  as saying that the traditional welcome was not “‘general” enough to acknowledge all  Aboriginal groups … a criticism directly in line with my successful argument of five years ago.

Meanwhile several  City Councillors have endorsed Ms O’Donoghue’s criticism, with Anne Moran saying that in ten years she has never seen a Kaurna person at a Council meeting.

“I think it is tokenistic and cringingly embarrassing that we say it at a drop of a hat”, she says.

Councillors Plumridge and Wilkinson also agreed that the use of the welcome should be restricted to major events.

Meanwhile I strongly expect the matter to be come the subject of some debate at Unley Council in the very near future…

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ben permalink
    June 23, 2014 4:24 pm

    One of the things that I find interesting is that the Adelaide City Council places the Aboriginal Flag and the Australian Flag together but excludes the Torres Straight Islander flag which has just as much meaning to Islanders as the others.


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