Eurobodalla moves forward on reconciliation

In a Mayoral minute issued yesterday Council has moved that it will indicate its support for the permanent installation of the Aboriginal flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge advising that it has long flown the flag at its council chambers in Moruya. The support comes during National Reconciliation Week (NRW) 27 May to 3 June which is a time set aside for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each and every Australian can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. The beginning and ending dates of NRW commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively. This week also sees the announcement of former Moruya High School student Nakia Morton-Stewart being selected to the NSW Aboriginal Land Council Youth Advisory Committee that supports and represents young Aboriginal people with a chance to be heard and develop their leadership skills. The Youth Advisory Committee provides advice and recommendations to NSWALC on issues impacting young Aboriginal people as well as develop youth-led, community based strategies to respond to those issues. The NSWALC will be providing Nakia with career advancement training and leadership development opportunities that she will no doubt return to the region. Last Friday saw the National Sorry Day Bridge Walk in Moruya hosted by Eurobodalla Aboriginal Boys to Men group that was well attended with by the wider community. National Sorry Day is an Australia-wide observance held on 26 May every year that gives people the chance to come together and share steps towards healing for the Stolen Generations, their families and communities. Stolen generations refer to Indigenous Australians who were forcibly removed from their families and communities. This week sees new decals applied to the doors of Council's administration building, Council Chambers and Moruya Library.

Above: the new decals of Councils Camber and front entry to the administration building

Following on from the lead taken with the installation of local aborignal artwork to the doors of our local hospitals and health centres the doorway art is helping to start a new conversation around reconciliation Council’s community development coordinator Zoe Morgan said the semi-transparent veneers worked to strengthen ties between the Aboriginal community, Council and the broader community, and encouraged greater participation by Aboriginal people in local government. “We have five outstanding images by five local Aboriginal artists which we’ll be using at entries to Council facilities across the shire,” Ms Morgan said. “By including the local Dhurga language word ‘walawaani’, visitors are offered welcome and safe journey.”She said the artists – Jodie-Rose Cotter, Reece Ladmore, Sonya Naylor, Bronwen Smith and Allison Walker – had exhibited the images in Council’s Yuin Country exhibition, a 2018 Sorry Day event.“We developed a professional licence agreement with each artist through the Arts Council NSW. We’re using their work to develop our ‘walawaani-welcome’ project,” Ms Morgan said. “The lovely thing is it has reignited conversation in the community. The Aboriginal Advisory Committee is one hundred percent behind this project; they believe it demonstrates a turn in Council’s commitment to reconciliation. ”Ms Morgan said stage two of the project would be rolled out during NAIDOC Week. “We’ll be installing a piece by Wallaga Lake’s Reece Ladmore at the Narooma Youth Café,” she said. “He’s a Narooma High student and our youngest artist, who’s been visiting the café for years.“It’s quite a coup for someone so young to be represented with a professional licence.” Ms Morgan said the project was modelled on the South East Arts SWELL: Walawaani Health Welcome signage, which was rolled out in partnership with Southern NSW Local Health District and local Aboriginal artists.“Council staff attended the unveiling of the South East Arts entryway art at the Batemans Bay and Moruya hospitals in April last year. That project had been very well received by the local Aboriginal and broader community and was a concept we could build upon,” she said.“There is a real opportunity to expand the concept across the shire into the future.” Ms Morgan said other entryways to sport new artwork during the next phase of the project included the Narooma and Batemans Bay libraries and the Dr Mackay Community Centre.

Above: Allison Walker with a semi-transparent image of her work ‘Birrima’ at the entry to the Moruya Library.

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