East Gippsland, unlike many other places in Victoria, is fortunate to have a very vibrant and visible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community that provides a depth of cultural and community diversity that is significant in a Victorian context.
Local government has a responsibility to engage with and provide services to everyone in our community.
Council has for many years been clear about its intent to better engage with and improve its relationships with community members. While the level of engagement has been slowly growing over the last few years, the opportunity to prepare a Reconciliation Action Plan has enabled Council to formalise a range of actions that set out our contribution to reconciliation.
The Reconciliation Action Plan has been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia and this endorsement comes with a responsibility to report publicly on the achievement of actions on at least an annual basis and so we aim to ensure that Council’s achievements are promoted in a way that reveals the real impact of having a planned and strategic approach to building Relationships, Respect and Opportunities in East Gippsland.
The artwork titled “Over Time We Come Together” by local artist Cassie Leatham was selected through a competition where local Aboriginal artists were invited to enter a work that represented what Reconciliation means to them.
Cassie says “the artwork means acknowledging a multicultural community, building bridges, working together and understanding each other”.
We aim to create a future of mutual respect and harmony by collaborating with East Gippsland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to develop actions that embed cultural change in the organisation through increased mutual understanding and effective partnerships.
We will improve relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members by incorporating community input, involvement and contribution from the Shire’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The need for representation and protection for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage is increasingly recognised and the role in decision making about the future of East Gippsland is represented and protected.