THE City of Greater Bendigo has scrapped the prayer it has used to open its meetings, replacing them with an extended Acknowledgement of Country and a moment of silence.
Incoming councillors decided to drop their prayer to God over concerns the practice did not reflect the diversity of the region, mayor Jennifer Alden said at the beginning of Monday night's meeting.
She said the council had consulted with Traditional Owners it would now acknowledge their wisdom and leadership in an Indigenous language.
It would come on top of the Acknowledge of Country a previous council had implemented.
"This will be followed by an opening statement and then a moment of silence to reflect on our responsibilities as councillors and the decisions before us that will affect our community," Cr Alden said.
"Greater Bendigo's diversity continues to grow so this approach represents Council's commitment to being more inclusive and welcoming all people who attend our meetings, and listen and watch."
The Bendigo council sits on both Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung Country, though the extended acknowledgement focuses more on the former's Elders past, present and emerging.
Bendigo's mayor will also now make an opening statement to put aside all personal interests and biases, followed by the moment of silent reflection.
The council will continue to outline community members' achievements at the start of the meeting and would reopen its meetings for people to walk into when COVID-19 restrictions are eased further.
Also on Monday night, councillors approved plans for a KFC despite their concerns over the safety of a 'potentially dangerous' Midland Highway and Howard Street intersection.
They also knocked back a bid for a Buddhist temple near Heathcote over concerns neighbours could have to put up with too much noise and disruption.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.