Show respect for all cultures

Latrobe City councillor Kellie O’Callaghan has launched a social media campaign in the wake of controversial comments made by her fellow councillor Christine Sindt.

Cr O’Callaghan is asking Latrobe Valley residents to use the #ispeak4respect hashtag.

“With so many negative messages about our local community in recent weeks, particularly on social media, our community needs leaders who will stand up,” Cr O’Callaghan said.

“I’m asking our community to speak up and join me in encouraging all members of our community to feel respected.

“We need an avenue to demonstrate that as a community we don’t share views that are hurtful and harmful to others.

“Some may share the hashtag, some might share the message via Facebook and I encourage people to add some words to share their perspective.”

Cr Sindt drew criticism from fellow councillors and community groups following the 2 March council meeting when she opposed declaring the Valley a refugee welcome zone.

During the meeting she attempted to steer discussion on the matter to her concerns about Shariah Law, later saying it and Islamic teachings “support and promote activities inconsistent with western democratic values”.

Her official Facebook page has in recent days featured multiple posts referring to Islam. On Wednesday in an interview with ABC Melbourne radio host Jon Faine, she was asked whether she distinguished the difference between the Islamic community and radical extremists, to which she replied “to me, it’s pretty much the same”.

Cr Sindt will tonight move a motion attempting to overturn council’s decision to declare the Valley a refugee welcome zone.