STIRLING council’s attempts to improve its relationship with the Aboriginal community don’t appear to have paid off.
The results of an “inclusion survey” included in the council’s latest annual report showed Aborigines at the bottom of the table.
The very elderly rated highest in the survey (7.2), followed by people with disabilities (6.9), recent immigrants (6.7), teenagers and young adults (6.6) and Aboriginal people (6.2).
But that does represent an improvement since 2013, when the score was a very lowly 5.7.
Up until a few years ago Stirling council had a poor relationship with its Aboriginal community; in 2011 on the eve of NAIDOC week, then-mayor David Boothman conceded relations were strained, saying “we need to do more work on this at a council level”.
It was only in November 2010 that the council voted to permit the Aboriginal flag to fly during NAIDOC and Reconciliation Week.
But since then there have been a number of initiatives to improve the relationship and mayor Mark Irwin says the city will be launching a second reconciliation action plan on November 21
“Our updated plan will allow us to build on the positive work we have already begun through our first RAP and foster even more positive outcomes for the community,” Mr Irwin said.
Already the city has agreed to the daily flying of the Aboriginal flag outside its admin building.
“The city’s RAP 2018-2020 includes new areas of focus including strategies to improve recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and exploring and promoting opportunities for cultural tourism,” Mr Irwin said.
The council also has a number of partnerships in place with community groups like the Wadjak Northside Aboriginal Resource Centre, and at the start of every council meeting now conduct an acknowledgement of country.
“[It] plays an important part in the city’s reconciliation journey,” says councillor Bianca Sandri.
“In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, the meaning of ‘country’ is more than just ownership, it’s their connection to land.
“So, not only will we be showing respect and recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional custodians of land, we will be promoting an ongoing connection to place.”
by STEPHEN POLLOCK