City of Mount Gambier endorsed its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) at the full meeting of Council on Tuesday 18 February 2020. The endorsement demonstrates the Council’s commitment to continue to acknowledge, celebrate and create greater equity for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through the process of reconciliation.
While the plan focusses primarily on internal changes in terms of systems, practices and procedures it also assists the Council to lead by example within the local community by demonstrating attitudes and behaviours that help to foster greater awareness and appreciation for reconciliation.
As an organisation Council recognises the plan as an opportunity to create meaningful change within our own workplace culture, programming and service delivery while also demonstrating leadership to our broader community to take positive steps towards reconciliation.
– City of Mount Gambier CEO Andrew Meddle
The plan will act as an internal framework for the organisation and identifies a vision and the actions and objectives Council will employ over the next two years.
“The RAP focuses on strengthening positive relationships, acknowledging and respecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and providing opportunities to ensure that our First Nations peoples have the same opportunities as others in our community,” City of Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin OAM said.
Council formed a Reconciliation Action Plan Focus Group in 2015 comprising of staff, senior management and Elected Members and guidance from designated Boandik Elders, community representatives and leaders of Aboriginal controlled organisations including Burrandies and Pangula Mannamurna.
“The Reconciliation Action Plan is the culmination of more than five years of learning and relationship building between Council and our First Nations communities. It acknowledges our progress, clarifies our vision for reconciliation and provides a clear, accountable framework for positive change,” Mayor Martin said.
Boandik Elders Aunty Penny Bonney, Aunty Val Brennan and Uncle Mikey Hartman have played a pivotal role in the establishment of the plan having been involved with the focus group since 2015.
“I am really happy to see the plan get to this point after many years of learning together, it’s wonderful that we can put the past behind us and move forward towards reconciliation,” Aunty Val said.
The plan is titled ‘Yerkalalpata’ meaning ‘leading the way’ in the reclaimed Boandik language called ‘Bunganditj’. The use of Bunganditj language is made possible with the approval of local Elders and the Bunganditj Language Reclamation Committee.
“I am very proud to have been part of this wonderful journey in bringing our Reconciliation Action Plan to life. Berrin (Mount Gambier) is certainly yerkalalpata (leading the way),” Aunty Penny said.
The City of Mount Gambier has worked closely with Reconciliation Australia in recent months to ensure the plan meets the standards set out in their National Reconciliation Action Plan Framework and is the first council in the Limestone Coast to adopt a Reconciliation Action Plan endorsed by Reconciliation Australia.
“The plan ensures that we continue to acknowledge, respect and celebrate the important contribution of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and I invite the community to read, reflect and support the initiatives as we work together to further Mount Gambier as an inclusive city,” Mayor Martin said.
The final document will incorporate artwork that represents the shared journey towards reconciliation by local Boandik artist Belinda Bonney.
The RAP will be officially launched in partnership with key stakeholders and community members in coming months.