East Gippsland Shire Council’s future Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) will be the subject of conversation at Sunday’s ‘Stories of Influence’ at the Lake Tyers Community Hall on Sunday.
The shire’s RAP expired back in 2018 and Reconciliation East Gippsland would like to see a renewed plan that has a bit more bite and “is better resourced”.
Shane Rees from Reconciliation East Gippsland says the shire’s previous plan, which ran from 2015-2018, needs to change focus.
“The current plan is very nice and comfortable but doesn’t do very much in addressing the big problems facing Aboriginal people,” Mr Rees told the Post.
Mr Rees is expected to set out how it should be focussed and “effective in helping the Aboriginal community” at the session on Sunday afternoon.
Chair of Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Corporation (GEGAC), Allan Coe, will also address the audience about a project he is working on that is aimed at keeping Aboriginal people out of the prison system.
“These are Aboriginal people who are coming out of prison and haven’t got a home to go to and we want to turn their lives around,” Mr Rees said.
“The idea is around giving them a better chance of not returning to prison. “Improving relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people is important but that is not all reconciliation is about.
“It is also about providing redress for the wrongs of the past and providing meaningful assistance to overcome longstanding poverty and disadvantage.
“I will be expanding on this theme on Sunday and welcome community discussion,” Mr Rees said.
East Gippsland Shire chief executive officer, Anthony Basford, said while the Council’s Reconciliation Action Plan had expired, it “hasn’t prevented council continuing its work in this area and building its relationships with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community”.
The 2015-2018 RAP was developed by a working group made up of council staff and stakeholders.
While the shire offered no explanation for why the RAP had expired, Mr Basford said it will be renewed and that “conversations with indigenous communities have commenced”.
“Council also need to be mindful of other initiatives occurring at a state level, including self-determination, joint management of public lands and Treaty,” he said.
Mr Basford pointed out that East Gippsland Shire does have indigenous employees, however, “there is no requirement for any employee to disclose their background”.
Mayor, Cr Mendy Urie, will open the ‘Reconciliation’ session on Sunday at which other councillors have also been invited to attend.
Cr Jane Greacen is also expected to be in attendance, having been elected to council on a platform hoping to make East Gippsland a leader in Aboriginal employment.
Cr Greacen told the Post she remains “very committed to council establishing good relations with the Aboriginal community”.
People wishing to attend the Reconciliation session at the Lake Tyers Community Hall at 2pm on Sunday can book tickets online by searching ‘Stories of Influence’ at Trybooking.
The East Gippsland Shire Council is holding a series of workshops throughout the community to provide the public with an opportunity to have their say about the future. The workshops are being held in five locations – Lakes Entrance, Orbost, Mallacoota, Bairnsdale and Omeo. The feedback provided in the workshops, along with information collected through the community perceptions survey, will inform the development of the Council Plan 2021-2025 and the Annual Budget 2021-22 (including the Capital Works Program). One of the first workshops was held in Lakes Entrance last Wednesday with Crs Sonia Buckley and Trevor Stow in attendance. The workshop was told council was keen to hear diverse views and different perspectives from the community with participants asked what they valued most about living in East Gippsland.