An Indigenous "Welcome to Country" ceremony for a newborn child has drawn criticism from former and current MPs following the posting to social media of an image of the ceremony to the Goulburn Base Hospital—Maternity's Facebook page.
The image features a newborn draped in possum fur with a branch of gum tree leaves placed nearby. A toy magpie is also placed beside the baby.
The caption for the post reads, "Our first Welcome to Country ceremony in the new Maternity Unit."
First performed in 1973, the Welcome to Country is carried out at many formal ceremonies in Australia and is stated at the beginning of proceedings or speeches.
The Southern New South Wales (NSW) Local Health District—in charge of Goulburn Base Hospital—responded to inquiries saying the photograph was organised by the family of the newborn with "no involvement from Goulburn Hospital staff."
"The child was in the care of the parents at all times," a spokesperson told The Epoch Times. "The content was shared by a staff member on an unofficial non-authorised account. The staff member has since deleted the post."
The post was received poorly by NSW MP Mark Latham, who said it was the "weirdest Welcome to Country."
While former Victorian state MP Bernie Finn called it virtue signalling on a "grand scale."
The post's emergence comes as the debate about Indigenous policy in Australia continues to ramp up amid campaigning for the Oct. 14 referendum on whether to alter the country's Constitution.
The Indigenous Voice to Parliament proposal includes a change to the preamble of the nation's founding document to recognise Indigenous people and also the establishment of a near-permanent advisory body to Parliament.
The body will have the power to "make representations" to the executive and legislature on issues deemed relevant to Indigenous people in the country.
Advocates of The Voice believe giving Indigenous communities more access to parliamentary decision-making will help deal with chronic issues such as welfare dependency, unemployment, alcoholism, and truancy.
While those against the proposal fear it could further entrench the Indigenous lobbying industry in Canberra and will not result in actual on-the-ground results.