Mending bridges

“GOOD intentions” will be turned into “real actions” under Perth city council’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

It aims to improve the council’s relationship with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

The council’s had shaky relations with parts of the Aboriginal community at times, including a long-running and sometimes heavy-handed crackdown on people camping at Heirisson Island/Matagarup, which involved repeated mass-confiscation of camping gear (and on one occasion, a sacred stone).

RAPs, already being adopted by some local governments, aim to go beyond vague mission statements to more practical actions. Perth’s draft RAP lists more than 90 suggested actions, including:

• Creating job opportunities, economic development and education for A+TSI peoples;

• Training city staff to appreciate A+TSI “cultures, histories and achievements”;

• Holding exhibitions at the CoP library to promote oral histories and celebrate Aboriginal culture;

• Includiing Whadjuk Nyoongar histories in the city’s cultural heritage policies; and,

•Having the Aboriginal community install a “bush tucker garden” in the city.

Other measures are more symbolic, from employing an Aboriginal artist to create an artwork which would feature on city uniforms and cars, to changing the names of council meeting rooms to Nyoongar language names.

When our daily paper The West Australian reported on the RAP, the headline and opening paragraph focused on one of the 90+ actions: that “City of Perth staff may have to wear reconciliation pins”.

Lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi said in a media statement this week: “The City has a long history of carrying out projects and activities that recognise Whadjuk Nyoongar history and culture, however until now has had no formal reconciliation framework in place

“The last 12 months have been a long and proud journey filled with learning as the City developed its first RAP. As a capital city council, the City of Perth has a distinct leadership role to ensure Perth continues to develop, embrace, acknowledge and respect Aboriginal culture.”


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