City moves towards reconciliation

City moves towards reconciliation

Artist Chloe Calyon with her artwork which adorns the RAP document.

In December the City of Armadale launched its first Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan.

The formal document lays out a list of practical steps with the aims of strengthening the relationship and respect between council and the local Indigenous community, fostering greater cultural understanding, and creating more opportunities for First Nations people.

Reconciliation Australia has highlighted the need for it to “provide tangible and substantive benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, increasing economic equity and supporting First Nations self-determination”.

The city has committed to regularly consulting with Elders during its implementation to ensure the document translates to more than just words on a page.

The plan was developed over the course of a year; the idea for the RAP was raised during a council meeting in June 2022, and on 12 August 2022 council resolved to establish a Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group to oversee the development of the city’s first RAP.

RAP Working Group Members Jodie Clarke (co-chair) and Kerry Steele look on at the launch in December.

The Working Group consisted of local Indigenous leaders with backgrounds in development and community support, councillors, council officers and three other interested community members. They met once a month to determine practical actions for each of the four key areas in the RAP: relationships, respect, opportunities, and governance. They also held two workshops with Elders to review their work.

The design of the City of Armadale’s RAP document was created by Chloe Calyon, a Pinjarup-Whadjuk woman and local artist with direct bloodlines to all Noongar nations. Chloe facilitated artwork sessions for children, Elders and other community members to participate in the creation of the design.

The RAP was officially launched on December 14 at the Champion Centre, with a special Welcome to Country, cultural performances and traditional food.

Cr Scott Mosey cleanses with smoke alongside Working Group member Adrian Tanner, Cr Paul Hetherington, Manaia Michael, Jerome Tanner and BJ Reid.

“The RAP is a way for the city to formalise its commitment to strengthening relationships with the local Aboriginal community, through consultation, collaboration and empowerment. The RAP is an important strategic document which provides a framework to guide reconciliation,” Mayor Ruth Butterfield said.

“Thank you to the members of the RAP Working Group, and the Aboriginal Elders for coming together to make this a reality. Thank you to Chloe and the community members for your work in creating the art design. The development of our first RAP is a worthy milestone for the city, and we look forward to building on these relationships into the future.”

The RAP can be found on the City of Armadale’s website under ‘plans and strategies’.

Photographs – Richard Polden

Manaia Michael, Jerome Tanner and BJ Reid relax before performing, Welcome to Country. Photographs – Richard Polden