There are a number of partnerships and activities relevant to our Reconciliation Action Plan.
Establishment of the Karreenga Aboriginal Advisory Committee
The purpose of the Karreenga Aboriginal Advisory Committee is to provide a structure for on-going conversation between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and City of Greater Geelong across a broad range of topics such as cultural heritage, health, housing, legal, sport, recreation, employment, environment, training and early years services.
The Karreenga Aboriginal Advisory Committee also provides Council with information and advice regarding issues about social justice and cultural safety for the Wadawurrung people and the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community. The Committee comprises a Councillor, representatives from Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents and non-Indigenous residents, representative from Barwon Health, Department of Health and Human Services and Geelong One Fire Reconciliation Group and staff from the City.
The City has been the sponsor of 12 Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plans since 2013. These plans relate to new developments in areas of Aboriginal cultural heritage sensitivity and they are assessed by Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation as the Registered Aboriginal Party. The preparation of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plans has assisted in protecting, recognising and respecting Aboriginal cultural heritage within the Geelong region and the Council has taken a proactive approach to this protection of Aboriginal culture heritage since the adoption of the Aboriginal Planning Development Protocol in 2000.
Our creation story and songlines are all connected, Country is a living entity. We can close our eyes and hear our language from our Country being spoken by our birds and all things around us. We can open our eyes and see our stories and connection, we can walk barefoot and feel our Mother Earth. We can traditionally burn country for it to heal and renourish. Our cultural structures cared for our Country for thousands of years.
We as Wadawurrung People will continue
to advocate, care and walk together
for our future generations and all
people living and visiting our country,
~ Wadawurrung woman - Corrina Eccles
The Reconciliation Digital Projections
The City of Greater Geelong has supported a diverse range of events during National Reconciliation Week over many years. In particular over the past five years, the City has launched the Reconciliation digital projections, and this remains one of the key reconciliation events on the City’s calendar.
Discussions with Uncle Bryon Powell, Elder from Wadawurrung Traditional Owner Group, led to the development of the project. Uncle Bryon originally suggested that Council hold a Welcome to Country with a traditional Smoking Ceremony at sunset and this idea was expanded to incorporate a digital projection program on the front of City Hall, City of Greater Geelong’s Municipal offices, during National Reconciliation Week.
The motivation behind the program was to create an opportunity for the strengths of the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to be showcased in a creative and engaging format. The project was developed from a strengths-based approach, with each partner contributing imagery that depicted the health, strength and creative aspects of the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
A digital multimedia artist was engaged to create an animated digital show reel that displayed imagery of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and their work. Additionally, historic footage and contemporary images of community members participating in a range of healthy leisure activities, sport, dance and community gatherings are also displayed. A soundtrack accompanies the imagery, including a voice over from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members.
Council is proud to host and coordinate the event which receives overwhelming support from both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and non-Indigenous members of the community. All parties have demonstrated a willingness to bring a solution focused approach to relationship building and creating a greater sense of cultural understanding and respect.
The project successfully engages and works with more than 35 stakeholders across Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous communities. This includes Traditional Owners, Aboriginal service providers, schools, The Torch, artwork from Barwon, Karreenga and Marngoneet prisons, Geelong Art Gallery, Geelong Library and Heritage Centre, Barwon Water, Geelong Performing Arts Centre, artists, sporting clubs and health providers.
In 2019, artworks from 20 Aboriginal artists were also placed on exhibition and offered for sale in the Geelong Library.
The project is delivered utilising the skills and expertise of staff across the organisation and it contributes to a growing awareness and understanding of the strengths of the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The success of the project has contributed to its ongoing sustainability, with all partners indicating an interest in growing the project in future years.
Case study – Koling Wada Ngal
Celebrating All Things Deadly, Close the Gap Day event
The City of Greater Geelong celebrated with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community on Close the Gap Day on 21 March 2019. Traditionally across Australia, the day has been used to raise awareness of the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but the City chose to turn the message around and celebrate “All Things Deadly” about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life and cultures.
The event, held in Johnstone Park, a traditional meeting place for the Wadawurrung People, was very well received by the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous community, with participation from people of all ages.
The event was led by the City of Greater Geelong with significant support from local organisations, groups and businesses, who contributed resources, activities and information for the event.
Originally designed to garner support from the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community for the development of the City’s first Reconciliation Action Plan, the event quickly grew into a festival of traditional ceremony, dance and art, and contemporary craft, music and activities.
After a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony by Traditional Owners, the Community was encouraged to participate in the music and dance, stalls, information sessions and a healthy exercise program led by Aboriginal sports program “I Dare Ya”.
Food was provided by a local Aboriginal catering business and music and entertainment by local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members. Joining the music line up was also the Dhungala Children’s Choir with Deborah Cheetham leading the choir of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children through songs in traditional language.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community agreed that the event was a resounding success and plans are underway to ensure it becomes an annual event on the City of Greater Geelong event calendar.
City walking trails
In 2018 the City of Greater Geelong launched a number of walking trails many containing Aboriginal cultural information about the local area.
Walks have been developed within the North Shore Neighbourhood, Cowies Creek Environmental area, and the Karndoor-Kapa Track in Corio. The KarndoorKapa track is named in Wadawurrung language and means “Follow the Norlane Corio track”. Each of the tracks provides a pamphlet that contains a section on Aboriginal Culture written by the Traditional Owners. The information provided on these walks includes knowledge about Wadawurrung Country, their lifestyle, local food sources and contact with the early settlers.
“Because of Her We Can” Commemorative photobook and STREETFACE
In 2018, the City of Greater Geelong celebrated NAIDOC with the national theme Because of her, We Can! Acknowledging the contributions, leadership, advocacy and influence of First Nations women across our region.
NAIDOC Week is a time to celebrate and recognise the histories, cultures, contributions and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples.
As leaders, trailblazers, politicians, activists and social change advocates, First Nations women have fought, and continue to fight, for justice, equal rights, rights to Country, law and justice; access to education and employment; and the ability to maintain and celebrate their cultures, languages, music and art.
They continue to influence as doctors, lawyers, teachers, electricians, chefs, nurses, architects, rangers, emergency and defence personnel, writers, volunteers, chief executive officers, actors, singer songwriters, journalists, entrepreneurs, media personalities, board members, accountants, academics, sporting icons and Olympians, the list goes on.
They are mothers, Elders, grandmothers, Aunties, sisters and daughters. Their achievements, their voices, and their unwavering passion give us all strength and has empowered past generations and paves the way for generations to come.
In recognition the City prepared a commemorative photobook of the 2018 event, portraying the many First Nations women, their family, friends, colleagues and Community who came together to honour and celebrate them.
In addition to the photobook, 40 pictures were chosen to be featured on 18 buildings around Geelong, as part of NAIDOC celebrations.
These STREETFACES were nominated and selected by young local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are shining a light on the Aboriginal women who make a difference in their lives and our community.