The Harvey Aboriginal Corporation has expressed its disappointment in the tone of last week’s Shire of Harvey meeting as the council’s policy on welcome to country and acknowledgment of country comes under review. It was an emotional debate on Tuesday as councillors voted 9-2 against Cr Craig Carbone’s move to have the recognition of First Nations people scrapped at Shire meetings and events. Shire president Michelle Campbell admitted the proposal had brought “unwelcome attention” to the council as a review gets under way on its policy, which has been in place since 2019. In a statement released on Wednesday, the corporation expressed its views on the outcome of the meeting. “Whilst we are disappointed in how the discussion of this matter was undertaken, we respect the decision that was made by council, and look forward to working with the Shire and other community members on the review of this policy,” the statement read. “We thank all those from the Harvey community and beyond who have shown their support and look forward to opening the new Boola Bidi Dreaming Centre to further engage and share our rich culture with everyone.” Cr Carbone hit back at criticisms by corporation chair Greg Little during last week’s meeting, at one point saying “If they feel so strongly about it, do it for nothing” in regards to payments elders receive for conducting welcome to country ceremonies. Cr Tiny Holly drew the ire of at least one other councillor at the meeting when he criticised non-Indigenous Australians being barred from some sacred sites. “You know, the places that we aren’t allowed to go to because they’re Aboriginal owned and that, they were made by someone higher up than us,” he said. “They’ve been here for millions of years, and we’re not allowed to go on them, and you know, people don’t like that.” A number of other senior members of the Shire’s Aboriginal community attended last week’s meeting, including Australind-based elder Dennis Jetta and Harvey-based elder Lesley Ugle. Hugs were shared among attendees when they left the meeting, after Cr Campbell’s alternative to bring the Shire’s policy on welcome to country and acknowledgment of country to the council for review was passed. Speaking immediately after Cr Carbone’s motion had been defeated, Cr Campbell noted he “has every right” to put forward a notice of motion but said the way it had been raised had not allowed for “open and respectful dialogue” between councillors, staff and the Indigenous community to occur. “Cr Carbone’s notice of motion has attracted unwelcome attention on the Shire of Harvey and that is most unfortunate,” she said. “It’s also caused much anxiety amongst our local Indigenous and non-Indigenous community, and that is regretful.” Cr Campbell said her decision to bring the policy up for review would resolve what she described as a “lack of dialogue”. “This will allow the opportunity for councillors to workshop the current policy and ensure that elders within our communities are respectfully consulted as part of the process,” she said. “This will also allow for a thorough discussion before making the decision.” Cr Carbone attempted to change Cr Campbell’s proposal to include having a survey conducted of Shire community opinions on the welcome to country and acknowledgement of country, but it was knocked back 4-7. After the vote was lost, Cr Carbone told fellow councillors “so we don’t listen to our community now”. Cr Campbell’s proposal was passed 9-2, with Cr Carbone and Cr Holly voting against.