AFTER a false start two years ago East Fremantle council is again seeking to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan to guide its engagement with the town’s first peoples.
The brainchild of the non-profit organisation Reconciliation Australia, a RAP is a set of goals designed to help organisations develop “culturally safe and welcoming workplaces” and to “formalise commitments to reconciliation.” Over 1000 organisations have developed RAPS.
The council has been here before: In June 2018, it opened applications for a RAP working group. But the response was underwhelming, says councillor Cliff Collinson.
“I believe we only received one application for the working group,” Cr Collinson said.
This time, however, he is confident of success.
“We’ve done a lot of training and preparation. It’s taken quite a long time to get this to happen, but we want to do this well. The wheels of local government turn slowly sometimes, but they do turn.”
The council has come a long way in recent years. Since 2007, all meetings have started with a Welcome to Country. This year, the town undertook restoration work on the riverfront Niergarup track. And in the two years since the first RAP attempt, all councillors and all members of council staff have undergone cultural engagement training.
What benefits the RAP will yield will depend on the conclusions of the working group, but Mr Collinson suggests a few possibilities.
“It could mean more training for cultural sensitivity, but it could also include things like procurement – making sure that the council buys its stationary supplies from indigenous suppliers, to name just one example. Or it could involve trying to employ more Indigenous people” he said.
Applications for the working group will remain open until Thursday August 20.
by LOTTIE ELTON