During NAIDOC Week 2021, the City of Perth committed to enter into a Yacker-Danjoo Ngala Bidi with representatives of the City of Perth Elders Advisory Group.
Yacker-Danjoo Ngala Bidi means ‘Working Together Our Way’ in Whadjuk Nyoongar and is reflective of the genuine steps the City has taken with the Elders Advisory Group towards reconciliation.
With a succinct and strong statement, the Yacker Danjoo Ngala Bidi is sincere and genuine, acknowledging Whadjuk Nyoongar people as the Traditional Owners of the land on which Perth city is located.
The official signing will take place in the coming weeks with City of Perth Elected Members and the City of Perth Elders Advisory Group.
With the help of the City’s Elders Advisory Group and various stakeholders, the City of Perth launched its first Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in early 2018 with the aim of moving forward to more trusting relationships in the future. The City will soon enter into the Innovate phase of the RAP.
City of Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas said since its endorsement, the RAP has contributed to an organisation focussed on truth telling, trust and understanding.
“We are grateful for the knowledge and guidance the Elders have provided to help shape the City’s projects and initiatives, ensuring Aboriginal history and culture is celebrated throughout our community,” he said.
“The Elders have helped to create groundwork for moving forward, working in partnership and making things happen.
“The Yacker Danjoo Ngala Bidi will further demonstrate the City’s intention to learn from the past and provide the guiding principles for how we will work together in our continuing reconciliation journey.
“It is a commitment by both parties to respectfully work together to improve the future of Aboriginal people and to ensure the true history and culture of Aboriginal people is visible throughout the City of Perth.”
Since the development of the RAP, the City of Perth has established strong relationships with the City of Perth Elders Advisory Group and wider Aboriginal community through ongoing and genuine engagement and action.
The City of Perth’s Chief Executive Officer and the Elders have met multiple times a year for ‘boss to boss’ conversations – providing updates and connecting back to the wider community.
One of the major actions in the RAP was to strengthen the understanding and working relationship between the City of Perth and the Whadjuk Nyoongar people – one that would underpin the desired culture of the City of Perth and its Reconciliation Action Plans, both current and future.
Through various engagement sessions with the Elders Advisory Group, the content and intent of the Yacker-Danjoo Ngala Bidi was developed.
“The City of Perth has come a long way and for me this has been a big change. The Reconciliation Action Plan has given us good ground work for moving forward,” Aboriginal Elder Uncle Farley Garlett said.
“We’ve been lucky that the City of Perth has been receptive to the conversations we’ve had over the last few years. It has been nothing but positive.
“In all of our struggles and in all of our protests, we have had non-Aboriginal people standing with us. They have been with us from day one and are still with us today and I’m sure they will be with us in the future. Togetherness is about all of us – all of us going forward and understanding each other.”
“This is what the Danjoo is all about – to recognise, acknowledge and respect the Whadjuk people,” Aboriginal Elder Aunty Margaret Culbong said.
“We want to walk together with the Perth City Council in development and growth of our lore, our culture and the people who live on our land.
“It is all about telling our stories and leaving a legacy behind. My Elders have been around for many years and they’ve taught me many things.
“Working with my Elders has given me the confidence to go forward, to set a pathway for generations to come so that our lore and culture can last another 40,000 to 50,000 years.”
The Elders are the Bridyas (bosses) and as such are recognised, valued and honoured by the City as heads of the Aboriginal community: Aunty Theresa Walley, Aunty Doolan Eatts, Uncle Ben Taylor, Aunty Margaret Culbong, Aunty Muriel Bowie, Uncle Walter Eatts, Uncle Farley Garlett, Aunty Irene McNamara, Uncle Albert McNamara and Uncle Noel Nannup.