Surf Coast Shire Council has adopted a Statement of Commitment to Reconciliation, pledging to walk together and work together with traditional custodians of the land while growing understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
Councillors resolved at their meeting on 25 May to adopt the statement, symbolically launching and committing to Council’s reconciliation journey.
The statement acknowledges the Wadawurrung People and the Guilijan and Gadabanud Peoples of the Eastern Maar as the traditional custodians of the lands now spanned by Surf Coast Shire.
It also recognises their spiritual connections with those lands, and past hurt, grief and suffering experienced by First Nations people.
Mayor Libby Stapleton said adopting the Statement of Commitment was an important and meaningful step for Council.
“It demonstrates our commitment to work towards a more equal and respectful future, but we have a long way to travel in deepening our understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture,” Cr Stapleton said.
“Council has registered with Reconciliation Australia to develop and deliver a Reconciliation Action Plan – titled Reflect – by the end of 2022, and is undertaking this journey with the deepest respect and the highest purpose.
“The Reflect action plan helps us to scope and shape our vision for reconciliation, and to develop relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders.
“We look forward to learning and growing as we carefully nurture our action plan.”
Reconciliation Australia provides framework for organisations to develop four types of Reconciliation Action Plans, depending on their stage of development. The plans are: Reflect – Scoping Reconciliation; Innovate – Implementing Reconciliation; Stretch – Embedding Reconciliation; and Elevate – Leadership in Reconciliation.
Council’s Reflect plan will be largely internally focused, with an emphasis on educating and upskilling staff in preparation for implementing reconciliation.
Council’s Statement of Commitment to Reconciliation will be shared publicly, and follows below.
Council’s Statement of Commitment to Reconciliation:
The Wadawurrung People and the Guilijan and Gadubanud Peoples of the Eastern Maar, are the traditional custodians of the land we now call Surf Coast Shire.
We acknowledge their custodianship, and all other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People who are part of our Surf Coast Shire Community.
We value the special spiritual and material relationship that they have with the land and water, including the trees, rocks, hills, valleys, creeks, rivers and ocean of the Surf Coast and hinterland.
Our Council acknowledges that past laws, government policies, actions and attitudes have caused great pain, grief and suffering for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
We feel and express deep sorrow that these actions and attitudes have occurred, and we are determined to ensure they are not repeated.
We are committed to reconciliation.
That commitment is founded on respect, and we recognise a need to grow our understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, one of the oldest living cultures in the world.
In February 2021 Council registered with Reconciliation Australia to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan – Reflect.
That action was the beginning of a journey as we walk together and work together with the traditional custodians of the land and water.
Council commits to developing and delivering our Reconciliation Action Plan – Reflect by the end of 2022, at which time we will embark upon the next step in Reconciliation Australia’s framework – an Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan.