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The South Burnett’s Australia Day Stuff-Up

Filed under Editorial

January 26, 2018

by Anne Miller

How do you turn an Australia Day success into a social media nightmare?

Simple, you invite three people – including a young girl – along to your awards evening, tell them they have been nominated for an award, and then don’t read out their names.

And when one of them later asks why, they’re told it’s “because you’re from Cherbourg…”

But wait … the real answer should have been: “You don’t live within the South Burnett Regional Council’s boundaries”.

The three nominees affected, two from Cherbourg and one from Goomeri, had been ruled ineligible for South Burnett Council awards days earlier by the committee judges.

But because of an internal mix-up at the South Burnett Regional Council, they were still sent invitations to the awards night … generating all the usual pride, excitement and expectation.

Only to be snubbed on the night, echoing the common racial exclusions of past decades.

Can you imagine a worse scenario, particularly in the context of the national debate over the future of January 26 celebrations?

This embarrassing stuff-up caused hurt, anger and then a flurry of comments on social media understands that apologies have now been made and suggestions put forward to include Cherbourg residents in future SBRC awards, although this has not yet been decided.

But this incident illustrates just how far we all have to go to develop sensitivity, overcome mistrust and build bridges.

Now back to snags, songs, suncream and silly games which, of course, would be just as much fun on January 1 as January 26.

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