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Please stand for God Save The ... King

September 21, 2022

By David Fitzsimons

God Save the King was sung, possibly for the first time in 70 years, at an Orange council meeting this week.

Resplendent in bright jackets, the Orange Male Voice Choir contributed to the commemoration of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the start of the council meeting on Tuesday night.

During the meeting the stark reality of a major issue facing the community was outlined to councillors - four suicides in the past six weeks.

Councillor Tony Mileto called for council funding for the installation of "blue benches" across the city as part of a mental health and suicide awareness program.

One of the blue benches.

The council approved $19,500 funding to cover the installation of 13 blue benches.

Councillor Mel McDonell said the benches provided both a space for people to sit and contemplate, while raising awareness in the wider community about the situation.

“We’ve got a massive mental health crisis at the moment,” said McDonell, who spoke openly last month to The Orange News Examiner about the mental health challenges she has faced. “I think Covid has made it a whole lot worse.”

The council was told the 13 benches were at the council depot ready to be installed.

It was told the Orange Region Suicide Prevention Network had planned to contribute to installation costs but that its funds had been diverted due to the size of the problem.

In other council news:

* Council endorsed the Orange Region Destination Management Plan 2022–2026, which would see marketing company Orange360 continue tourism promotion for the region at a cost of $450,000 a year to Orange ratepayers;

* A decision on how much council would provide in small donations and grants to community

groups was deferred pending a staff report;

* A staff report will be provided into the future of the Orange Function Centre, and;

* Council was told attendance at national conferences on roads and airports provided valuable networking and contacts for councillors and staff.

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