Council takes another step towards reconciliation
THE first step in a new way of respecting and honouring the Indigenous elders and traditional owners in the Gladstone Region has been taken by the council.
The Gladstone Regional Council has approved the first stage of the Reconciliation Action Plan, which focuses on welcome to country and acknowledging traditional owners at events and ceremonies.
Mayor Matt Burnett said it was the first of many stages with the plan expected to roll out more commitments within the next few years.
"This is putting everything we're already doing as documented, so when there are future mayors and councillors they can follow this policy," Cr Burnett said.
"I make no queries about the fact of who was here first and I've always had a very good relationship with our elders and traditional owners.
"My granddad (now 104 years old) has a very strong relationship with them too, our family and the traditional owners have been connected for many, many years."
Gooreng Gooreng elder Richard Johnson applauded the council's move.
Mr Johnson hoped in the future it would lead to new provisions or opportunities for employment within the council for Gladstone's indigenous youth.
"There are a number of issues we would like to see the council address as part of the RAP," he said.
"Some are based around employment opportunities ... working for the council can be a very good stepping stone."
The first implementation of the RAP comes three months after the Federal Court's native title determination, vindicating a 20-year struggle on the part of our region's indigenous people.
Members of the Byellee, Gurang, Gooreng Gooreng and Taribelang Bunda people were granted official recognition of their connection with and ownership of more than 420,000ha of land and water across the Gladstone, Bundaberg and North Burnett regions.