30 November 2022

Yass Council, elders and RSL support move to fly Indigenous flag over memorial hall

| Sally Hopman
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Yass Memorial Hall

The Aboriginal flag flies outside the Yass Soldiers Memorial Hall on the town’s main street along with the Australian flag. Photo: Sally Hopman.

The Aboriginal flag will fly permanently outside the Soldiers Memorial Hall on the main street of Yass, following unanimous endorsement from the Yass Valley Council at its meeting last week.

Although the flag had been flying outside the hall since August, some concern was reported in the community that it had been installed without sufficient community consultation.

In July, the Mayor of the Yass Valley Allan McGrath suggested at a council meeting that the Aboriginal flag be raised following the decision by the NSW Government to raise that flag over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He subsequently proposed a mayoral recommendation to that effect but some councillors were critical of what they said was a lack of community consultation and that proper process was not followed.

A recision motion to take the flag down was carried, which meant that it would have to be removed while community consultation took place. But a subsequent call by Deputy Mayor Jasmin Jones that the flag should remain flying while the further discussion was held, was carried.

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Consultation has since taken place between the council and the parties involved, including the RSL and the council’s Indigenous Consultative Committee.

Mayor McGrath said after further discussions the issue was taken back to council where, at its last meeting, it was resolved unanimously that the flag should fly outside the Soldiers Memorial Hall.

“What we didn’t want was for this issue to be taken up by extremists on both sides,” he said.

“So I was happy with the result that it went through unanimously – although it was a hell of a long time coming.

“That sort of recognition is very important for our community, to have both flags flying. I think of it as a small step in a massive jump.

“They are the First Australians so that flag should be flying.”

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Councillor McGrath said the Yass Valley had a relatively high Aboriginal population, with about 500 Indigenous people living in the town out of a total population of around 6000.

He said a special ceremony was being organised for 12 December where the NSW flag would be lowered from outside the Memorial Hall and given to the RSL for safekeeping. The Indigenous flag would then be raised along with the Australian flag.

“We want to make that day a real occasion,” he said, adding that everyone involved in the discussion would be invited to take part in the event.

The Indigenous flag also flies outside the Yass Valley Council chambers in the main street.

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