Moyne Shire Council, VIC
Ngootyoong Laka, Ngootyoong Yana: Walking and Talking with Respect
This year, for the first time in our Shire’s history, Moyne Shire Council hosted the regions first Australia Day ceremony dedicated to Indigenous history reflection.
We engaged First Nations Elders and representatives, working together to create an inclusive, respectful event honouring the region’s Indigenous history, while remembering the pain caused by colonisation. The event was held at the Port Fairy Indigenous Massacre Memorial and was attended by over 300 people.
The event began with a smoking ceremony and song performed by local Gunditjmara/Kirrae Whurrong man Brett Clarke. Peek Whurrong Elder Uncle Rob Lowe Senior then spoke and remarked that the date served as a reflection day on the trauma of growing up as an Indigenous Australian on mission stations. He spoke about how ceremonies such as this one gave Indigenous people a chance to meaningfully share their experiences.
“These are our stories, this is my story, this is what we lived through, this is what we witnessed,” he said. “These are the stories that we have to tell because no one would know what it was like growing up on the mission stations in this area. If we tell the stories, and white Australians hear the stories, it becomes our shared history and we move forward, together.”
Following the ceremony, damper and tea was made available to all attendees and tube stock trees, native to the Moyne Shire region were handed out. These were sourced from local indigenous nursery Worn Gunditj and provided another opportunity to learn of the native flora in the area.
The response following the event was overwhelmingly positive. It afforded Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members to come together, to talk, listen, learn and share stories, language and culture.
The event also provides a model for other Councils to replicate in the future. It has also started meaningful conversations and actions highlighting unified pathways forward within our Shire.
The event was made possible by a grant afforded to the Moyne Shire Council from the National Australia Day Council. Wherever possible, local Indigenous businesses, artists and vendors were used.
About the Category
The ‘Indigenous Recognition’ category recognises Indigenous initiatives and employees in local government which:
- achieve representation of Indigenous people in their community and inform local government activities and policies;
- overcome inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples through community-based policies and programs that are done in partnership with local Indigenous people;
- have explicit Indigenous employment goals, strategies and support mechanisms such as Indigenous cadetship programs, mentoring and cultural awareness initiatives; and/or
- have an outstanding Indigenous employee who is making a difference to their community and workplace by delivering high quality initiatives and outcomes.
Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:
- bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and communities to share skills and experiences;
- undertaking initiatives that reinforce, strengthen, and promote Indigenous culture, traditions and languages;
- raising awareness and understanding of the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and culture; and/or
- building positive and productive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through policies and programs.