Western Sydney Community Forum welcomes a recent Mayoral Minute adopted by Council as a measure towards reconciliation for communities in Western Sydney. Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne of The Hills Shire Council made a significant motion regarding reconciliation in the region. The Mayoral minute was unanimously endorsed by Council where an invitation will be extended to local Aboriginal Elders to meet with Council, and an Acknowledgement to Country will be included in Citizenship Ceremonies and at major community events. In addition to these two motions, Mayor Byrne also moved that Council investigate practical ways to recognise Indigenous Australians in the area.
“What has become clear to me is the need to find a way forward that unites our community and allows us to go on a journey, together, to better recognise the role Indigenous people have had in the past and continue to have in The Hills’ story”, Mayor Byrne said.
This comes after comments that were made by Councillor Brooke Collins just under a fortnight ago regarding the Council decision made in 2017 to exclude Acknowledgement of Country as part of Council Meetings and other major events.
The motions endorsed this morning have been welcomed by many significant members of the Aboriginal community in Western Sydney.
Uncle Greg Simms, Western Sydney Community Forum ambassador expressed his joy, stating “It’s a good thing, especially for those people who are not educated. We are all one people, I’m pleased to see us moving forward.”
This step forward towards reconciliation is one of many that must occur across different levels of government and also across the community for equity to be demonstrated to all, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Another ambassador of Western Sydney Community Forum, the highly respected Aunty Carol Cooper stated, “In my opinion I think this is giving people a chance to know who we are, why we do what we do. Why we do the Welcome, why we do the talks. This is bringing us all together; giving the children of our communities a chance to know us and understand why we have seniors in our culture.
“There has to be a Welcome to Country because people who come to our land need to know whose land they’re on and see a face from that land”, Aunty Carol Cooper asserted.
Western Sydney Community Forum welcomes these motions as does its many supporters who are continually advocating for equity across all members of the community including Western Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Billie Sankovic, Western Sydney Community Forum Chief Executive Officer said “We welcome the Mayoral Minute by Hills Shire Council to move the motions that it did today.
“I congratulate the local community for their voice and commitment to this incredibly important and long overdue action. Without a collaborative, local to national commitment, it is impossible to move towards reconciliation and address the systemic injustices that have been faced by First Nations people for centuries.
“We stand with Elders and First Nations People in achieving voice, treaty and truth locally and nationally.” stated Ms Sankovic.
To move towards reconciliation it is vital that as a community we all:
- Collaborate closely with Elders of First Nations communities, being led by their expertise and experience in decision making processes.
- Acknowledge, recognise and embrace Welcome to Country.
- Respect and acknowledge First Nations People’s history, culture, traditions and communities at all gatherings.