LG's work in reconciliation recognised

In welcoming delegates to the land, Ngunnawal elder, Matilda House presented a message stick of goodwill to ALGA President, Councillor John Ross. She said that the message stick can be sent to all State Association gatherings as a symbol of partnership.

"I am proud of the many examples of Councils seeking to make agreements at the local level with Aboriginal people," John Ross said.

"In the spirit of reconciliation, these initiatives have the potential to defuse much of the rancour that accompanies formal legal proceedings.

"I hope in my lifetime there will be acceptance of the fact that the word 'ownership' in Aboriginal terms relates more closely to a synergy between people and the land they occupy.

"I contend we never own the land, we are merely custodians of it for those who follow."

During the Assembly, Chairperson of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Dr Evelyn Scott, presented ALGA with a Reconciliation Award. She said that Local Government has proved itself as an agent for positive change.

"Successive ALGA Presidents have committed themselves to reconciliation adding to the standing of Local Government in the community," Dr Scott said.

"ALGA has been with us from the beginning. We would not have achieved what we have without your support. You have proven your organisation is a leader in every sense of the word."

In accepting the Award John Ross said that he was proud to be accepting the Award on behalf of all Councils.

"We must be an inclusive organisation and reconciliation is a vital part of this," he said.

Dr Scott said although much has been achieved, there is still a way to go. With the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation finishing on 31 December 2000, the part played by Local Government will be more vital than ever.

She called on Councils to play a key role in organising National Reconciliation Week; include a welcome to country in future citizenship ceremonies; develop local symbols of reconciliation; and for all Councils to individually commit to the Declaration of Reconciliation.