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Yamatji Southern Regional Corporation criticised for ‘disrespecting’ elder

Jamie ThannooGeraldton Guardian
Kathleen Councillor, Glenda Jackamarra and Robyn Willock.
Camera IconKathleen Councillor, Glenda Jackamarra and Robyn Willock. Credit: Jamie Thannoo

A group of traditional owners and and members of the Yamatji Southern Regional Corporation have criticised the organisation, labelling it culturally insensitive, over a decision not to postpone an annual general meeting set to be held on the same day as the funeral of a well-known elder.

A funeral for local Yamatji man Barry Dickerson was organised for November 12, the same day as the YSRC is set to hold its AGM.

According to Mr Dickerson’s niece Kathleen Councillor, many people not only in Geraldton, but across the State will be paying their respects given Mr Dickerson’s standing in the community, and she said the funeral will likely be one of the largest held in Geraldton.

Ms Councillor said she asked the YSRC to postpone its AGM, given the cultural significance of the passing of an elder and the fact many would be unable to attend the AGM as they would be at the funeral.

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“A lot of people knew Barry as ‘Pop’ Barry. . . Uncle Barry was a very well-respected member of the community,” she said.

The YSRC has refused to do so, and said it was a “difficult decision” but while the circumstances were unfortunate, factors beyond their control meant the AGM could not be postponed.

The YSRC said it was legally required to hold the meeting two months after receiving notice from members, which it did in August.

The YSRC also said rescheduling bookings for the venue, catering and online voting services would make postponing the AGM unfeasible.

Ms Councillor labelled these reasons “excuses” stating that other Aboriginal groups have postponed their meetings in respect for the funeral.

“Why are we having troubles in the one place Barry was a traditional owner?” she said.

She also said this was not the first time YSRC have held a meeting while a funeral was being held for an elder, highlighting a lack of cultural sensitivity with the corporation.

“It’s heartache, heartache for the family knowing full well they are disrespecting not only her husband, their father, but also our uncle and our elder,” Ms Councillor said.

“It’s about protocol at the end of the day, protocol and respect.”

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