• The RSLWA has reversed its recently announced policy to ban the Aboriginal flag, traditional language and Welcome to Country from some offficial ceremonies. (supplied)
RSLWA has announced it will not follow through with controversial plan to ban Welcome to Country and the flying of the Aboriginal flag from some official ceremonies following criticism from community, state politicians and the PM.
By
Rangi Hirini

Source:
NITV News
24 Feb 2020 - 9:29 AM  UPDATED 24 Feb 2020 - 9:29 AM

Three days after news broke of a controversial new policy to ban Welcome to Country and the the flying of the Aboriginal flag at ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies, the RSLWA has announced it has reconsidered its position and has withdrawn the policy. 

In a statement on Sunday, RSLWA said it had done the about-face due to "community reaction". 

"RSL WA is concerned that its position on the matter had unfortunately drawn misunderstandings of its intent," said the statement. 

“RSLWA accepts the policy may have been open to misinterpretation. Its advisory policy will be reviewed and relaunched in the near future following further dialogue with interested parties."

The veteran's organisation also said it respected and valued Indigenous veterans and will support the national commemorative services guidelines as set down by the Commonwealth of Australia. 

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The veteran's organisation claims it had a number of complaints following the reading of the Ode of Remembrance last year in traditional Noongar language.

Late last week, it was revealed that the new policy was passed unanimously by the RSLWA, which banned the Aboriginal flag and the Welcome to Country during ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day services.

The RSLWA said the policy was intended to unite the community. 

The policy was established following complaints about a reading of the Ode of Remembrance in both English and the Noongar language - the traditional language of the area around the Perth region in WA, during the Fremantle Council's ANZAC Day Service last year. 

A number of politicians have publicly criticised the RSLWA for the policy including the Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also weighed in and said it was important to acknowledge and show respect to Indigenous Australians.

“Mutual respect is what unites our country and makes us stronger,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.

Shadow minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney also criticised the RSLWA policy.

“At a time when there are so many challenges facing our returned service personnel — mental health support; unemployment; homelessness — it strikes me as strange that the WA branch of the RSL has made this a priority,” said Ms Burney.

“From Boer to Afghanistan, thousands of indigenous Australians have shown, through their service, a love and dedication to this country — a country that hadn’t always shown the same love back," she said.

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