ARARAT Rural City has reached a decision over the future home of the HMAS Ararat’s bell.
Councillors were provided with a number of options for the bell, with a priority in ensuring that the historical item be always in a place where the public can access it.
Option one was “the former HMAS bell be permanently displayed at the Ararat RSL, and a plaque advising that the HMAS bell is on permanent loan to the RSL by the Ararat Rural City Council be displayed with the Bell”.
Option two was “the former HMAS bell be on permanent loan to the Ararat RSL for display purposes on the condition that if the HMAS bell is taken down from display, it be returned immediately to Ararat Rural City”.
Option four was “the HMAS Ararat Photo signed by the crew members and the HMAS Ararat Bell makers mark remain at the Ararat Rural City Council Customer Services on permanent display”.
Councillors voted for option three: “If not permanently displayed at the Ararat RSL, that the HMAS bell be returned to Ararat Rural City Council Municipal Offices and displayed in the Customer Services area of the Municipal Offices”.
In April, the Ararat RSL applied for Ararat Rural City Council to donate the bell to the RSL.
“We don’t want to disrespect the wishes of who gave it to us in the first place, so we want to do some research first,” Ararat Rural City mayor Paul Hooper said at the time.
Later that month, HMAS Ararat crew members visited Ararat for Anzac Day.
A petition containing 797 signatures was handed to Ararat Rural City last month urging councillors “to resolve to permanently house the HMAS Ararat bell at the Ararat RSL for the benefit of all Community Members without restriction.”
Councillors also received a public deposition that argued Ararat RSl was open to all and its opening hours made the bell widely available to the public.
Cr Jo Armstrong said she was deeply disappointed in how the situation came about and the RSL and council needed to talk as their relationship was at risk.
Cr Gwenda Allgood asked if Wannon MP and Federal Veterans Affairs Minister Dan Tehan had any advice on where the bell should reside.
Cr Allgood was advised that Mr Tehan's office had been contacted.