Councils highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and culture during NAIDOC Week

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being encouraged to have a greater voice in local government and stand for next year’s council elections across the State, NSW’s peak body for councils said yesterday.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott said she hoped the NSW Government would throw its support behind a coordinated effort encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to run for council and that NAIDOC Week (November 8-15) was the perfect time to highlight the issue.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people represent a vital voice in local communities, but they are under-represented in local government. Currently there are just 24 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councillors across our State,” Cr Scott said.

“We are keen to work with the NSW Government to address that through a properly coordinated and resourced campaign to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to run for council in the next local government elections in September 2021.

“Councils are the level of government most connected to their local communities and it’s critical that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are fairly represented. They bring invaluable insight on culture as well as issues facing their people.”

The theme of this year’s NAIDOC Week, Always Was, Always Will Be, recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for the Australian continent for more than 65,000 years.

“NAIDOC Week is an important time to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Cr Scott said.

“Councils across NSW recognise the rich heritage of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and are partnering with their local groups to host a range of events celebrating their culture and heritage, in person and online.

“Planned events include dance workshops, panel discussions, cultural stories in song and online cooking classes.”

Cr Scott said LGNSW’s Local Government Week Awards earlier this year recognised several councils for arts and culture initiatives celebrating Aboriginal culture.

“Gunnedah Shire Council won the Leo Kelly Arts and Culture Award for its Rainbow Serpent Water Feature Project, a beautiful large-scale serpent mosaic made up of coloured glass, brass and oxidised concrete created by a group of local Kamilaroi women.

“Lismore and Sutherland councils were highly commended for the same award for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture projects.

“Lismore hosted a multisensory art installation on the local Bundjalung people’s language, history and story, while Sutherland was recognised for its Weapons for the Soldier exhibition, initiated by local Indigenous men and featuring artwork of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunyjatjara Lands.

“These efforts are just a small sample of how passionate and proud NSW councils are of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, which would only be enhanced with greater representation at a local government level.”

Link to Media Release here.

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