Shire of Katanning councillor Ainslie Evans has survived a motion calling for her to stand down in the wake of findings against her in the Blaxell Inquiry into sexual abuse at St Andrew’s Hostel.
The motion was originally supposed to be put forward by Shire president Richard Kowald at last week’s council meeting, but he was not able to attend the meeting and the motion ended up being moved by deputy president Alan McFarlane.
The motion, which stated Cr Evans should offer her resignation as councillor with the Shire, was defeated 5-3, but not before much debate.
Although moving the motion, Cr McFarlane spoke against it saying the report and events were tragic but Cr Evans should not be the one to face blame.
Councillors Robert Godfrey, David Rees and Leisha Woods voted for the motion.
Cr Godfrey said no one on the council ever thought they would find themselves in this position and he felt overwhelming sorrow and empathy for the victims.
He said he believed the motion would help with the healing process.
“(Cr Evans has shown a) lack of compassionate support for the victims,” he said.
Cr Alep Mydie, who voted against the motion, said until Cr Evans was guilty of a crime or found to have misled council, then they were in no position to ask her to step down.
“Let’s move on,” he said.
About 20 people filled the public gallery, many to support Cr Evans.
During public question and statement time at the meeting, no fewer than eight people stood up to offer their support for Cr Evans.
Stephen Blight, one of the first to speak, said Cr Evans had provided loyal service to the community for 27 years and should not be chastised for her role.
Lyn Coleman wanted to pass a motion of no confidence in the council but was told public question and statement time was not the correct avenue for that action.
Cr Evans sat quietly while the public made their statements and councillors debated the motion. She has declined to comment.
Cr Kowald said he was disappointed at the outcome of his motion, saying it was a chance for Katanning to be leaders, and that all the victims wanted was for people to acknowledge what happened and say sorry.
“Everyone within that inquiry, not just Ainslie Evans, various people involved have all remained quiet,” he said.“(They could have said) I’m sorry this happened on my watch.”