By Claire Ottaviano
THE City of Swan’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is out for public comment.
The long-term project was guided by an advisory group made up of City of Swan councillors, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community members and non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community members.
Formed in 2019, the advisory group have engaged with community members, provided ideas and feedback to the City’s internal working group Maali Boodja Kaartadjin and helped develop the City’s vision for reconciliation and relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Djooraminda Centrecare Midland cultural liaison officer Tony Culbong co-chairs the RAP advisory group with Swan mayor Kevin Bailey.
“The RAP, at its simplest, shows the Aboriginal people within this community that Swan City Council is actively involved in gaining knowledge and communicating with the community,” Mr Culbong said.
“If Council is actively involved in learning about art, language, and culture of the people it flows into everything the staff do.
“It also provides transparency to see into what the Council is doing and that works in their favour because people like to see what they’re doing and have the opportunity to have their voice heard – and to know those voices are being listened to helps create unity within the community.”
Focus areas of the RAP include developing and strengthening relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, promoting cultural events, improving consultation with First Nations communities, preparing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and retention strategy and many others.
Mayor Bailey said the RAP was made up of many steps that led towards developing respectful relationships and creating meaningful opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents.
“Some of the steps I’m really looking forward to seeing come together include committing to creating more opportunities for the recruitment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff at all levels of the organisation, empowering our staff to keep learning about Aboriginal culture and history, and strengthening our engagement protocols to ensure we’re proactively seeking input from Aboriginal communities on key areas including planning matters and naming of places,” he said.
“We are fortunate to have one of the richest and oldest continuing cultures in the world, and NAIDOC Week has always been one of my favourite times for celebrating the history, culture and achievements of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“To have reconciliation you have to know the culture and come to terms with our history as a nation, and I think NAIDOC Week is a wonderful place to start the learning journey.”
Feedback on the RAP is open until July 30 via www.swan.wa.gov.au/haveyoursay or at an information session at Beechboro Community Hub on Monday, July 19.