The City of Canada Bay has launched its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to prioritise and progress reconciliation in our local area. As a local Council, we serve our community and have a responsibility to recognise and promote the dual history of our area, celebrate contemporary First Nations cultures, and support the oldest surviving cultures in the world. We also want to focus on how we better deliver services and build connection and trust with our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – with each other, with Council, and with the non-Indigenous community. The City of Canada Bay is seeking to raise our ambition for reconciliation; recognising the past while working together to build a future of shared respect.
Following a period of consultation and connection building with our First Nations community and stakeholders, Council endorsed the Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan, and we are currently implementing it until June 2024 at which point we will develop and launch our second RAP.
Reconciliation Australia’s RAP Framework provides organisations with a structured approach to advance reconciliation. There are four different types of RAP that an organisation can develop: Reflect, Innovate, Stretch and Elevate. Each type of RAP is designed to suit an organisation at different stages of their reconciliation journey and reflects a process that is not linear in nature.
The City of Canada Bay decided to start our RAP journey with a Reflect RAP, giving us time to build relationships, listen to our community, and establish solid foundations for growth and increasing ambition.
The City of Canada Bay recognises our RAP will provide an opportunity to build stronger relationships with and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures.
With support from the Executive and Leadership Teams, our RAP Working Group (RWG) has met regularly and enthusiastically over the last year to develop our reconciliation vision and actions, prepare case studies on our reconciliation journey and existing partnerships and programs, and participate in community engagement.
The City of Canada Bay Councillors are invested in this journey and have shown strong support for the organisation to continue to strengthen our commitment to promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures through recognition and reconciliation.
We have met with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to foster connection and trust, to share information, and seek feedback on how Council can support local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities within our sphere of influence. Their input has helped shape our vision and goals for this RAP. Their ongoing participation and collaboration with us are central to achieving these goals.
We will approach the implementation of our RAP as we do all our strategic plans; with support from senior leaders, clear actions and outcomes assigned to relevant teams and managers, a resourcing strategy that will assist with its success, and ongoing RAP Working Group meetings to share responsibilities and maintain accountability.
In 2020, Council established a RAP Working Group to begin developing the City of Canada Bay's first RAP. Due to COVID-19, the development of the RAP was delayed until late 2021, when the initial working group grew to 18 officers. Regular workshops and learning opportunities were undertaken to prepare the RAP. These included a Smoking Ceremony conducted by Brendan Kirin from Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC), a walk on Country with Elder Uncle Jimmy Smith, a visioning workshop, and information gathering tasks. The working group came together collaboratively to contribute and share what steps should be taken towards reconciliation.
Currently, we do not have Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander representation in the RAP Working Group, however establishing First Nations representation is in our Reflect RAP commitments. Our RAP Working Group will help to deliver this RAP across eight sites Council staff work across, leading the many teams who will play key roles in its implementation.
Strategic document review, programs, and learning:
Community consultation and engagement:
On Sunday 6 November 2022, Council hosted a First Nations meet-up event in the award winning 5 Senses Garden in Concord West. The focus of the event was to foster connection between the First Nations community and Council, as well as the wider community. Uncle Jimmy Smith joined us to acknowledge the Wangal people and shared his deep understanding and care for the spirits of the Wangal people on Country. Over 30 people came together to meet one another, talk, share a meal, and participate in an incredible art workshop run by Gwiyaala Aboriginal Arts. Bronwen Smith and Gavin Chatfield took the group through a self-reflection exercise to create their own art that tells their story on smaller canvases. They also invited participants to contribute to a large artwork that tells the story of the Wangal people and the significance of their waterways and the saltwater mullet festivals held by traditional owners that brought local clans together in the area pre-colonisation. The canvas also features the eel, as Wangal Country is a place of eel dreaming – this is the RAP art seen throughout the RAP document.
Council has endorsed the review of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Study and Management Plan. The document is available here under the Community and Culture tab.
The NSW Heritage electronic database AHIMS (Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System) contains sites in the City of Canada Bay – the site cards for these registered sites in the City have been updated in accordance with the review.
The MLALC has been advised accordingly and briefing internal City of Canada Bay stakeholders to ensure compliance with the strategy in regulatory and operational functions has been undertaken.
On 19 July 2023, over 40 people came to Concord Library to listen to local First Nations thought leaders Uncle Jimmy Smith, Linda Syron Henderson and Martin Lester about their experience living and working on Wangal land. With a strong focus on early education and instilling a sense of connection to land and Country with young people, the talk was inspiring, honest, and thought-provoking.
Local indigenous artist and 2022 City of Canada Bay Arts and Culture Citizen of the Year, Melle Smith-Haimona, exhibited her incredible Indigitober exhibition at The Digital Gallery in Rhodes during NAIDOC Week 2023. During an artist talk to mark the launch of the exhibition Melle shared her creative process, what inspires her (her kids!), and how she came up with the fascinating exhibition.
The Indigitober exhibition by Melle Smith-Haimona ran from 3 July – 1 August at The Digital Gallery in Rhodes. Indigitober was born in 2022 after Melle read an article about racism online within the Manga, Cosplay and Anime communities. Inspired by the international 'Inktober' drawing challenge, Melle decided to bring awareness of Blak excellence to these spaces. The prompts in the Inktober challenge gave Indigenous artists the chance to create their own characters, redrawn in their own styles and to flip entire concepts on their head. The exhibition aimed to give people the chance to see that Aboriginal art isn’t just one thing but can be as wildly diverse as any other sector of the art community.
Melle is a 32 year old mother of two and proud Ngunnawal woman living on Wangal Country. Melle’s artwork has a strong sense of feminine power and connection to her Country, as well as the Country she has been raised on here in Sydney. She uses her artwork as a physical representation of her journey home. You can find Melle on Instagram by clicking here.
In April 2023, City of Canada Bay Libraries hosted two hands-on cartography workshops with Uncle Jimmy Smith at Five Dock Library. Participants worked in small groups to create hand drawn maps which explored and re-imagined their knowledge of the plants, animals, landforms, and waterways of the local area. These maps were digitised and displayed at Five Dock Library as part of NAIDOC Week celebrations.
This special NAIDOC Week storytelling workshop was delivered in collaboration with Aboriginal cultural educators, Koori Kinnections.
Trent Kelly from Koori Kinnections shared fascinating stories about First Nations culture and customs based on his ancestral knowledge of how Aboriginal people lived and cared for the land. The workshop showcased traditional weapons and tools used for hunting and included boomerangs, spears, a club and shield, as well as clapping sticks used as part of Indigenous ceremonies. Children were able to experience traditional face painting with ochre paste, a mixture of natural pigments and minerals found in the soil with water, before embarking on a cultural experience of nowey making – a canoe made from paperbark, twigs, and vines traditionally used by Aboriginal people to travel around the waterways.
Trent is a proud Yuin and Wailwan man, born and raised on Dharawal Country. He draws his cultural knowledge from his family and community and strives to extend and deepen this knowledge as he believes that cultural education is a lifelong endeavour. He has worked in education for many years and believes that understanding is the key to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. This insightful workshop certainly achieved that for the children of City of Canada Bay.
Delivered annually as part of City of Canada Bay Libraries’ regular Preschool Storytime sessions, NAIDOC Week themed storytimes celebrated First Nations people and their culture through delightful children’s picture book stories, written and illustrated by Indigenous Australian authors and creators.
This year’s Storytime events featured the witty tale of Clever crow, a bilingual text in English and Djambarrpuynu. Written by Nina Lawrence and beautifully illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft who weaves the Djambarrpuynu language book translation into her distinctive designs, the story was an entertaining read for children and aimed to introduce them to the unique Australian landscape, native animals, and local Indigenous culture. As a lovely storybook tie-in, children got to create their very own clever crow using rubbing plates for texture and design.
The libraries proudly promoted NAIDOC Week 2023 with special children’s displays in all our locations. Board displays featured the official NAIDOC Week poster, designed by Bobbi Lockyer, a proud Ngarluma, Kariyarra, Nyulnyul and Yawuru artist, and winner of the prestigious National NAIDOC Week Poster Competition with her entry, For Our Elders.
NAIDOC Week bunting was designed by library staff and featured the City of Canada Bay RAP artwork, and decorative flora elements were inspired by images from Lockyer’s poster.
Concord and Five Dock Libraries also featured book displays which showcased an extensive range of children’s picture books and junior fiction, authored and illustrated by Indigenous Australian creators, as well as information books about our First Nations peoples, their history, customs, and culture.
During Reconciliation Week 2023 (27 May –2 June 2023) the City of Canada Bay celebrated its local First Nations community with an art walk in Five Dock, culminating at the Reconciliation Action Plan artwork in Five Dock Library.
Over 30 Five Dock businesses showcased canvases created at our First Nations resident meet-up in November 2022. Five Dock Library also displayed the RAP artwork created by Gwiyaala Aboriginal Art. The piece tells the story of the Wangal people and the significance of their waterways and the saltwater mullet festivals held by traditional owners that brought local clans together in the area pre-colonisation. The canvas also features an eel, as Wangal Country is a place of eel dreaming. This art can be seen throughout Council’s Reconciliation Action Plan, which you can read when visiting the library. You can also read the RAP and sign up for updates here.
On Wednesday, 30 September 2023, Council hosted a staff National Reconciliation Week event at Concord Oval. The event was held to mark National Reconciliation Week and to also celebrate Council's very first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
We welcomed keynote speaker Anna Jovanovic, former RAP Manager for Reconciliation Australia, and heard about Council's own RAP. The attendees learned a lot about the RAP process and the benefits to the organisation and our community.