Embarking On The Path To Reconciliation
At last night’s Council Meeting, Golden Plains Shire Council endorsed its draft Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and a new Flag Policy that will see the Torres Strait Islander flag fly alongside the Australian and Aboriginal flags.
The Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program provides a framework for organisations to support the national reconciliation movement. There are four types of RAP that an organisation can develop: ‘Reflect, Innovate, Stretch, Elevate’. Each type of RAP is designed to suit an organisation at different stages of their reconciliation journey, with Golden Plains Shire Council at the first step: Reflect.
Council committed to developing a RAP in 2019, and the draft document has been developed by the organisation’s internal RAP Working Group in consultation with the Wadawurrung Aboriginal Corporation and the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation. The RAP provides a cohesive direction for Golden Plains Shire Council’s reconciliation activities in the Shire, which previously were undertaken by individual teams within Council’s organisation.
Committing to the ‘Reflect RAP’ allows Council to spend time scoping and developing relationships with its local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders, to set a vision for reconciliation and to explore its sphere of influence, before committing to more specific actions or initiatives.
At the meeting, Council endorsed the draft Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan 2021 for review under Reconciliation Australia’s RAP Accreditation Process. Following review by Reconciliation Australia, Council anticipates launching the finalised Reflect RAP during Reconciliation Week in June 2021.
Council’s Flag Policy was adopted following a Notice of Motion by Cr Owen Sharkey at the December 2020 Council Meeting seeking such a policy be developed. The new policy sets out that Council will fly the Australian National Flag, Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag at the Golden Plains Civic Centre in Bannockburn and The Well in Smythesdale. Currently, there are only two flag poles at each site, and to allow the Torres Strait Islander Flag to be flown Council committed to referring the cost of installing a third flagpole at these locations to its 2021/22 Capital Works Budget.
Mayor Cr Helena Kirby said the endorsement of the draft RAP and Flag Policy was an indication of Council’s commitment to reconciliation and better engagement with its local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
“Council was very pleased to endorse the organisation’s first Reconciliation Action Plan and a commitment to fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at our offices. Councillors and staff stand united to better engage with and celebrate our area’s indigenous history and on-going culture, as we begin our reconciliation journey with our local Traditional Owners and Custodians.
“The RAP takes our organisation’s meaningful and heart-felt words of Acknowledgement of Country and puts them into action, setting a direction that will be instilled in all Council’s work and relationships.
“Now that Council has adopted the new Flag Policy, we will look to include flagpole funding in our next budget to ensure that we can live up to our commitments in the policy to fly Torres Strait Islander flag alongside the National and Aboriginal flags.”
At the 2016 census, 204 members of the Golden Plains Shire community identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. Golden Plains Shire is home to two Traditional Owner Groups, the Wadawurrung and Eastern Maar, who have lived within the region for more than 25,000 years.