The Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, Rev Steve Francis, has today called on the RSL of WA to reconsider its position to ban the flying of the Aboriginal flag and the performance of Welcome to Country ceremonies during ANZAC and Rememberence Day services.
“This is an extremely disappointing decision by the RSL WA that creates real hurt for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” he said.
“I think the RSL has significantly misunderstood the nature and purpose of First Nations involvement in these ceremonies. A welcome to Country on ANZAC Day is an example of gracious inclusion from Aboriginal Elders who are actively honouring the fallen of our nation. We should be grateful for this. I don’t see the Aboriginal flag flying in competition to the Australian flag but it’s part of a genuine representation of our shared identity as people of this land and nation.”
Rev Robert Jetta, Chair of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (WA) said, “It does feel like a slap in the face and we hope it is a mistake quickly corrected.
“Our people have been protecting this land with their lives for a very long time, including in the Australian Defence Forces, so of course we want to be included in the ceremonies to commemorate those lives lost.
“It’s no small thing to welcome people to Country, especially when you have not always felt welcome in your own land yourself. But we share our culture in this way because we want to respect the fallen, we want to share the healing that our culture holds and we want to bring hope for a shared future together.”