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RSL bans aboriginal flag & welcome-to-country from Anzac Day ceremonies

At last, some pushback against the separatist push.

I hope the bosses in the WA RSL have sufficient steel in their spines to withstand the flack that's headed their way.

Lest We Forget.

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The WA branch of the RSL has banned the performance of Welcome to Country ceremonies and the flying of the Aboriginal flag at all of its Anzac and Remembrance Day services.

Key points:

  • The RSL says all content except the NZ anthem must be in English
  • Only the Australian, New Zealand and WA flags may be flown
  • Fremantle plans to continue with a Welcome to Country on Anzac Day

In a policy sparked by the performance of the Ode of Remembrance in an Aboriginal language last year, the veterans' organisation said it did not support the performance of these ceremonies at any sites which commemorated those who died during war.

"While having utmost respect for the traditional owners of land upon which such sites and memorials are located, RSLWA does not view it appropriate that a Welcome to Country is used at sites that were specifically established to pay homage to those who died and who came from a wide range of cultural backgrounds," the policy states.

The new policy was developed after the Anzac dawn service in Fremantle last year, where Aboriginal elder Professor Len Collard read the ode in Noongar language.

Professor Collard, who has spent much of his career preserving Noongar language, translated the ode from English.

RSLWA chief executive John McCourt said some of his members told the board that this was not appropriate.

English only, no Aboriginal flags

In response, the board developed a new policy around RSLWA-conducted commemorations of Anzac and Remembrance Days which includes the following points:

  • All content, bar the New Zealand national anthem, is to be presented or sung in English
  • Only the Australian, New Zealand and WA flags may be flown
  • No Welcome to Country and/or Acknowledgement of Country ceremonies
  • Respecting the right of regal, vice-regal and government representatives to use the Acknowledgement of Country but not at the dawn service or services at recognised war memorials