South Western Times

Shire says no to name change

- AILISH DELANEY

A controvers­ial idea to explore changing the name of the Shire of Capel, that was strongly opposed by community members, has been put to bed after the council decided to take no further action on the matter.

Exploring a name change was first floated last year, with a dual name of Capel-Coolingup to acknowledg­e the shire’s Indigenous history, or Shire of Geographe among the mix of ideas.

In the recent community perception survey 85 per cent of the 919 respondent­s were opposed and strongly opposed to the idea of changing the name of the Shire, with 9 per cent neutral or unsure and the remaining 6 per cent in support.

Councillor­s voted 4-3 on the motion — which ruled out changing the name, logo and branding of the Shire, as well as opportunit­ies for residents to suggest alternativ­e names or dual naming — given the lack of support from the community. Shire president Michael Southwell and Cr Kaara Andrew spoke against the motion, saying a dual name could be a more inclusive option going forward.

But Cr Andrew said she could not support the motion as it included dual naming rather than just a name change and the one line question in the community survey did not do the issue justice.

“Dual naming is a Landgate policy now as part of reconcilia­tion and acknowledg­ement of the tens of thousands of years of Indigenous

settlement and life that took place long before white settlement took place,” she said. “The fact that we have no recognitio­n of that previous life and heritage either in our Shire name or in our logo I think is appalling considerin­g its 2021.”

Cr Andrew said she did not think the first step in dual naming should be the council or community’s decision, but should be a conversati­on with local Indigenous elders.

“I don’t wish to speak on behalf of them, I would like to give them the opportunit­y to come and speak and have their opinion heard on how they feel about dual naming.”

Cr Sebastian Schiano said the motion was to bring the issue to an end, but it would not prevent councillor­s from bringing new items, such as dual naming, in the future.

“We should always be looking at what we can do to better incorporat­e our First Nations people in the way we operate and the way we recognise where we live and enjoy our lives,” he said.

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