Prayer scrapped at Council meetings

Stefan Bradley

Photo: File

WELLINGTON Shire Council has confirmed to the Gippsland Times that the prayer that is usually recited at the start of council meetings has been scrapped.

“Wellington Shire Councillors this week agreed to move to a statement of purpose, deciding not to read the Christian prayer that is usually recited at the beginning of each council meeting,” a Wellington Shire Council spokesperson told this newspaper on Friday February 10.

“Starting Tuesday 21 February, Wellington Shire Council Mayor Ian Bye will read a statement of purpose, acknowledging the growing diversity that exists within local communities.

“In the five years since 2018, Wellington Shire has officially welcomed 325 new citizens, and at its most recent Citizenship Ceremony in January 2023, 39 new citizens from 15 different backgrounds were welcomed to the region.

“This move continues to support Wellington Shire Council’s commitment to diversity and inclusion both as an organisation, and throughout local communities.”

Earlier this month, 21 councillors from 17 councils around Victoria signed an open letter to the state government calling for the removal of prayer from council meetings. Some of the councils have chosen to keep the prayer, and others replaced it with a statement of value or purpose. No-one from Wellington Shire Council took part in the letter, and until last Friday, it is understood they were undecided on the matter.

The state government told the ABC that prayer is not a requirement of local government council meetings.