Aboriginal Engagement Forum acknowledges the importance of looking back to move forward

Published on:
Monday, 25 March, 2024
WALGA updates
Aboriginal Engagement Forum acknowledges the importance of looking back to move forward

On Wednesday 20 March, WALGA hosted our annual Aboriginal Engagement Forum at the State Reception Centre, Kaarta Gar-up (Kings Park). 

Since 2017, the Forum has sought to empower and build the capacity of Local Government to achieve better practice, policy, and service delivery and work in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples. 

This year’s theme ‘Looking Back to Move Forward’ acknowledged that our shared path to reconciliation is not linear, but through reflection, sharing experiences, innovation, and collaboration we can inspire each other and continually move forward. 

Facilitated by Ballardong Noongar woman Roanna Edwards as Master of Ceremonies, the Forum brought together First Nations leaders and key stakeholders for a day of learning, and stories, fostering collaboration between Local Governments and their Aboriginal Communities across policy and service delivery. 

WALGA’s Aboriginal Engagement Forum welcomed forty-three Local Governments from thirteen Zones across Western Australia.  

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders represented 65% of representatives at the forum inclusive of Welcome to Country, Master of Ceremonies and Cultural Performers, with 53% of the speakers (excluding the WALGA President and Minister address),  

The event opened with a Welcome to Country by City of Kwinana Deputy Mayor and WALGA State Councillor Barry Winmar and Dylan Stack, noting we are stronger together, connected as one. This was accompanied by a cultural performance by students from Wesley College, who performed as the Moorditj Mob highlighting the importance of land and culture preservation. 

After an address by WALGA President Karen Chappel AM JP which highlighted how we are stronger together when managing challenges and words from Hon Dr Tony Buti MLA, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs; Education; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests, the day consisted of speakers from across the Local Government Sector and beyond, sharing their knowledge and experience in reference to the day’s theme. 

Councillor Yvonne Weldon AM, City of Sydney 

A lifelong activist, Yvonne has consistently advocated for meaningful consultation with the Aboriginal community. She was inspired to run for Council to ensure that Local Government is representative and to help those who have traditionally been excluded to find their voice. 

Cr Weldon’s keynote presentation highlighted the importance of being the change in the cycle. She discussed how change is for everyone, and to authentically include First Nations people in this change, it is important to invest in Aboriginal engagement and cultural preservation; to not walk in front, but alongside. 

“Be brave enough to truth tell and have representation.” – Cr Yvonne Weldon 

Sites of Truth Telling Project, Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage 

The Sites of Truth Telling project aims to help Western Australians to better understand the cultural significance and social value of places impacted by colonisation by yarning with Aboriginal people on Country about their lived history and family experiences. 

This session explored how Local Government can engage with the program to build a greater understanding of Aboriginal history and be part of its recognition. 

Walking Together – Five Years On 

“Jump in with your hearts and walk with us.” – Carol Innes AM 

Danjoo Koorliny ‘Walking Together’ is a bold, Aboriginal-led project that aims to help Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to walk together and co-create a better future for all. In the day’s presentation, Carol Innes AM reflected on her experience as a Co-Director and shared the project’s progress over the last five years as they look toward the 2029 Bicentenary and beyond. 

Ms Innes noted that Local Government is a pivotal place for change and that through the enhancement of collaboration with Aboriginal people, we can create momentum that builds over the years.  

Nih, Kaditj, Barruniny, Wongi (Listen, Learn, Connect, Yarn) 

Proud Whadjuk Balardong Noongar woman, Ingrid Cumming encouraged attendees to explore how we can keep the momentum of the reconciliation journey going in post-referendum Australia, rebuilding trust and empowering communities through accountable and authentic actions that will achieve lasting impact. 

The session highlighted the importance to Nih (Listen), Kaditj (Learn), Barruning (Connect) and Wongi (Yarn) to create the space for increased reconciliation and connection. 

Panel Discussion: Meaningful Engagement Across Local Government Functions 

Facilitated by Roanna Edwards and with a panel consisting of the City of Melville, the Shire of Augusta Margaret River and the Undalup Association, and the Shire of Kojonup. 

The panel shared their experiences of innovative engagement efforts across multiple teams within their Local Government. 

Local Government Showcase: Innovative Partnerships 

Facilitated by Roanna Edwards and with a panel consisting of the Shire of Waroona, the Harvey Aboriginal Corporation, the Shire of Augusta Margaret River and the Undalup Association, The Shire of Broome and Mudmap Studios. 

This session showcased the inspiring partnerships that have elevated the work of Local Government in their Aboriginal engagement journey.  

Celebrating the broad range of activities Local Government undertake, from land management to redevelopment, preservation and acknowledgement of cultural sites, the showcase highlighted the  power of partnership and innovation to achieve social outcomes. 

It’s time for ReconciliACTION  

Reconciliation WA provides leadership, advocacy and support to people and organisations driving the reconciliation movement in Western Australia. In this session, they provided insights into why we all need to dig deep, listen and lean into shaping the reconciliation journey, and discover ways to get involved and connect with other like-minded organisations. They also share the vision for the   upcoming Local Government Reconciliation Resource Hub, being developed in partnership with WALGA and State Government which will support Local Governments to engage positively, proactively, and authentically. 

This event was proudly delivered by WALGA and sponsored by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, and the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. 

Thank you to everyone involved in making the event a success. 

Learn more about WALGA’s policies to enable outcomes for Aboriginal community members and community inclusiveness across our functions, and key partnerships.

Share This Page
Back to of the page