Reconciliation plan approved

City of Cockburn CEO Daniel Simms, Beeliar Boodja artist Kathleen Sherie, City of Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett and City of Cockburn Community Development Manager Fiona Gardener at Bibra Lake. They are pictured with Kathleen’s original artwork, which appears on the City’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2023-2025.

Cockburn Council has endorsed the City’s fourth Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), since adopting its first – and becoming the first Perth Local Government to do so – in 2011.

The Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2023-2025 outlines specific actions to guide the City as it gains a deeper understanding of its sphere of influence and establishes the best ways to advance reconciliation.

The Council endorsed the RAP at its Ordinary Council Meeting on 14 December 2023.

City of Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett said the Innovate RAP would allow flexibility to consolidate foundation work in the areas of employment, cultural learning and community engagement, while ‘stretching’ the City’s work on anti-discrimination and procurement.

“The City continues to plan the Aboriginal Cultural and Visitors Centre in Bibra Lake, investing in cultural competency training for Elected Members and staff which is so important to reflect our shared values and increase our knowledge of Nyungar heritage, culture and language,” Mayor Howlett said.

“As we celebrate National Reconciliation Week, acknowledge Sorry Day, and extend our shared journey through various activities during NAIDOC Week there is more we can do as a community to ‘close the gap’ in the health and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other significant gaps that remain a challenge to us all.

“Connecting with Elders and our Aboriginal Reference Group (ARG) will increase knowledge sharing and providing guidance and recommendations to our Council on the many aspects of the RAP and other related activities.

“We thank the ARG and local Elders for their ongoing guidance and participation. The City is proud that it has had an ARG in place continuously since 2002 and we greatly value this relationship.”

City of Cockburn CEO Daniel Simms, who is the City’s endorsed Innovate RAP Champion, said the City’s vision for reconciliation was to create an inclusive community with strong relationships across cultures based on mutual respect and understanding.

“The City’s commitment to developing its fourth RAP is to work towards closing the gap between First Nations people and other Australians,” Mr Simms said.

“This means providing equitable access to services, inclusion in decision making and access to employment and business opportunities, so all people can be valued and participate fully in the Cockburn community.”

The RAP cover page features a painting by Cockburn resident and artist Kathleen Sherie who grew up on Beeliar Boodja and has connections to Minang/Goreng Country in southwest Western Australia, through her grandmother.

The artwork celebrates Beeliar Boodja which is home to the yaakan/yakkin (Southwestern snake-necked turtle, Chelodina oblonga – prev. C. colliei).

Kathleen said the circles represented Cockburn’s 24 suburbs, while the shades of blue represented the land, lake or swamp, boodja and pinjar/binger.