I think it's very important that we have a close relationship with the Wyndham and Hobsons Bay local Aboriginal community. We should show that we are an open and willing participant in creating, not only cultural diversity for all people that move to the city of Wyndham but we need to accept what the history has been of our community that goes back over 65,000 years.
I believe if you want to get connected with local government or just government in general, don't be scared of being involved. We have a very large aboriginal community here in Wyndham city and we can make a very positive influence, not just for our present and current community but also for our future Aboriginal community.
So it's important for other CEO's across the local government sector to recognise the importance of the LAN networks as a way to connect with Aboriginal communities. In community settings where people are feeling comfortable and there's an opportunity to sort of engage in dialogue and to break down some of those barriers, so I think the LAN provides a great opportunity to do that and I encourage community members to invite CEO's but also for CEO's to take up those opportunities to meet with community in place as well.
I think it's absolutely critical that the council and Aboriginal community work together because through community the council can learn how we operate, what our needs are and then we can share information and share resources which is a better outcome for everybody.
When we came to be developing our Reconciliation Action Plan it was really important for us to go to the Local Aboriginal Network and start running by them the ideas for that and listening to members of the network about what their priorities were for reconciliation here in this place and at this time. And through that to then start to build some relationships over the years. The broker helped build those relationships for us here at council. And then I found that as people have grown in confidence in the Aboriginal community to start approaching us at council some of my role has almost seemed to be like a broker as well, to say well people have got to know me and contact me and say 'I need to talk to someone at council about my children in kinder' for example and I could then find the person in kinders that the Aboriginal community member could start talking to or whatever the issue might be, because council's such a huge place I found that I could help, be a bit like a tourist guide for members of the Local Aboriginal Network to get to know council and who to talk to there.
By liaising with the Aboriginal community there's plenty more that we can do and will continue to do So one tip if you're thinking of trying to welcome the Aboriginal community into libraries is to really be there on the ground level with the community so to go out, attend the LAN meetings or go out to where the actual community is, let them get to know you and ask what they would like from the library service and just make sure that your library spaces are welcoming which is the philosophy of the library system, welcome everyone, so make sure that there's something in there that will welcome Aboriginal community members.
I think it's really important as a council worker to make the connection with the LAN I found at the beginning that, yes, I made some mistakes, I may have emailed the wrong person or used the wrong terminology, It wasn't anywhere I was familiar working with but I came back to the LAN each time and talked to the community, we were able to move forward and progress it wasn't a big deal, they were very supportive and five years later, that network's still going very strong attendance is growing, we've got a number of networks requesting to come along and present and that's really strengthened the relationship between council and the LAN and the Aboriginal community here in Wyndham.
As a local Aboriginal community member who lives in Wyndham and has lived in Wyndham for the last nine years, I found the LAN really instrumental as far as enabling some of those connections to other community members, it also helped facilitate connections to other workers, Aboriginal workers and non-Aboriginal workers who were delivering services out this way and helped us have all these conversations about the big picture as opposed to what we're all doing individually. I just like to encourage other community members to actually get up off the couch and get into council a little bit more often, they offer a lot of free training they offer a lot of free community development they offer a lot of small business development so there's lots of stuff especially for the Aboriginal community as far as self determination's concerned as far as empowering ourself with knowledge and skills and then be able to build our businesses and move forward and support others doing the same thing
My two tips for council workers who'd like to connect with their local Aboriginal communities first one would be to find out who your broker is and ask them about the Local Aboriginal Network. My second tip, which was important for my learning, was to get to understand who the traditional owners are in your local area, get to understand that landscape and also to try and find out about the diversity of Aboriginal people who are living in your local area.
Reviewed 20 April 2020