STIRLING council is on track to meet the objectives of its reconciliation plan says a local elder, although there are still grumbles more could be done to help young people facing racism.
Council officers recently met with indigenous leaders to gather feedback on the plan, which received national recognition earlier this year as the most progressive at the local government level.
Karl Mourach sits on Stirling’s indigenous working group and says the council’s willingness to listen was a big part of its success.
“Some people have this sort of paternalistic idea that we are to be looked after, but the City of Stirling has been pretty good in always having a group of elders there to bounce ideas off before they go forward with it,” Ms Mourach said.
There were a few angry voices at the forum calling on the government to do more to help Aboriginal people get jobs and achieve equal education outcomes, but Ms Mourach said reflecting on the small victories made sure the forum ended on a positive note.
“Sometimes like, if they make a mistake, there are some people from our side of the fence who jump up and down and expect a bit more,” Ms Mourach said.
“Small successes were what we built on.”
“It’s going pretty well, they’re on track according to the plan…it takes small steps.”
Stirling’s community services manager Chris Brereton says the council has worked hard to support Aboriginal people in having control over their destiny.
“It’s not the City of Stirling’s job to run mentorship programs for Aboriginal people, it’s actual Aboriginal people running the programs and running the tours. Our role is to empower and support the teams to achieve their own objectives rather than our objectives,” Mr Brereton said.
Some of these initiatives include the Mooro Tours, popular among tourists who flock for a bit of genuine education about Noongar culture; and oral history interviews with elders which are now preserved at Mount Flora museum.
Mr Brereton also recognised the enormous task that lay ahead.
“It takes time to undo the lack of trust that’s been there for years”, Mr Bereton said.
“Some people who attended the forum thought we’d not done enough; some young Aboriginal people who are still facing racism and other challenges.
“It would be wildly idealistic for us to try solve the problems that governments have worked on for years in a short period of time, but we’re making ground.”
by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM