Building reconciliation locally

Article image - Building reconciliation locally Local Noongar elders, councillors, and community members meet to advance reconciliation in the Town of East Fremantle.

An important first step was taken along the path to reconciliation last month when Town of East Fremantle, Western Australia, hosted the first meeting of its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Working Group.

The Working Group is comprised of Noongar elders, local councillors and community representatives, who have each expressed a personal interest in advancing reconciliation in East Fremantle with emphasis placed on respect, relationships and opportunities.

Deputy Mayor, Councillor Jenny Harrington, said, “I welcome the interest and the participation of the Noongar elders and our community members in this process so that we can reflect true reconciliation and give this real prominence in our Town.”

She advised that the RAP would evolve collaboratively through a series of meetings in coming weeks, and support has already been expressed for reflecting local Noongar history, stories, imagery and place names.  

Town elected officials and staff agreed that more should be done to make economic development opportunities available through procurement policies, the awarding of contracts, and employment.  

Representation was also raised as an important issue, highlighting the need to encourage local Noongar people to seek leadership roles in the Town, including as elected officials.

Noongar elder, Malcolm Champion said, “In the past, reconciliation has been considered as an afterthought, but it should be a before thought. We invite you to learn from our experiences and see through our eyes.”  

Gladys Yarran, also a Noongar elder, welcomed the opportunity to sit down with Council, acknowledging both communities needed to come together to help to close the gap.

Council Chief Executive Officer, Gary Tuffin, said, “We look forward to receiving the recommendations of the Working Group, and integrating reconciliation into the policies, strategies and operations of the Town in a meaningful and respectful way.”

He advised that the development of the RAP would be facilitated with the help of expert consultants Danny Ford and Tim Muirhead of Kambarang Services and it would be then tabled for public comment and then to Council for endorsement prior to implementation as a priority.