Driving reconciliation for 20 years

Article image - Driving reconciliation for 20 years Guraki Committee Chair Rob Russell, inaugural chair Laurel Williams and Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

Guraki Aboriginal Advisory Committee, City of Newcastle, New South Wales, has celebrated two decades of strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Novocastrians.

Guraki was officially launched as a committee of Council on June 1, 1999 with a mandate to give life to Council’s reconciliation ‘Commitment Statement’.

Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, said the Guraki Committee had a proud history of delivering cultural awareness outcomes for the city.

“Our reconciliation journey over the past twenty years has been inspiring, challenging and rewarding.

“Former Lord Mayor, Joy Cummings’ advocacy followed by the establishment of the Guraki Aboriginal Advisory Committee by the Former Lord Mayor, Greg Heys has ensured that Guraki’s legacy includes the Aboriginal flag on City Hall flying permanently alongside the Australian flag, a symbolic message acknowledging the Awabakal and Worimi peoples as Newcastle’s traditional custodians.

“Another achievement has been the dual names project which has seen the formal gazettal of eight significant Aboriginal landmarks in Newcastle, featuring interpretative signage with original names and place narratives.

“The City of Newcastle’s Guraki Aboriginal Advisory Committee submitted the names to the New South Wales Geographical Names Board based on Aboriginal references to the landmarks documented in maps, sketches and geological descriptions dating back from as early as 1797.

“This project has helped to bring the language and heritage of the Awabakal and Worimi peoples to a broader audience as part of a reconciliation project,” the Mayor said.

Guraki Committee Chair, Rob Russell, has reflected on the history of Guraki and acknowledged those who have served on the committee throughout its 20 years to build strong relationships
in the community.

“Guraki celebrating its 20th anniversary is a truly significant milestone. City of Newcastle has been a leader in driving reconciliation and seen many benefits from the expertise of an active Aboriginal community voice.

“Guraki provides high level strategic advice to assist Council to better understand the perspectives and aspirations of local Aboriginal people.

“Into the future, Guraki will continue to foster a more inclusive Newcastle community, and to promote to Council the concerns and interests that affect Aboriginal people in Newcastle.”

Guraki’s milestone was marked at an anniversary event held last month at Newcastle Museum.