Only 0.9% First Nations Population in Wyndham and 29 Surveys Completed, but Council Remains Committed to Progressing Reconciliation Efforts
Despite Wyndham having only 0.9% First Nations population and limited community engagement, Wyndham City Council has forged ahead with the adoption of the Wyndham Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2023-2025 at last nights ordinary council meeting.
The plan, aimed at progressing reconciliation with the First Nations Community, has been developed in consultation with relevant organizations and departments, including the Wyndham Reconciliation Advisory Committee (WRAC), Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.
At the meeting, members of the Wyndham Reconciliation Advisory Committee (WRAC), including Judy Dalton-Walsh and Kelly Lehmann representing Wathaurong and Bunorong communities, respectively, expressed their approval of the Wyndham Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2023-2025. Their positive remarks were met with a round of applause from the gallery attendees, acknowledging the significance of their support and involvement in the reconciliation process.
Only 29 Surveys Were Completed.
During the six-week public exhibition period from 3 March to 14 April 2023, only 29 surveys were completed according to the summary report, indicating a lack of widespread community input. Additionally, three First Nations Yarning Workshops were conducted, but the limited attendance suggests that broader consultation from the Wyndham community as a whole may have been lacking.
The survey elicited mixed reactions from participants. Some respondents expressed positive views, stating that “Wyndham is leading the way with Reconciliation. The Reconciliation Action Plan is concise, well thought out, and a great way to raise awareness.” On the other hand, there were dissenting opinions, with one participant expressing concerns that “The Reconciliation Action Plan will cause division in the community, and all other multicultural communities in Wyndham should also be considered.”
These varying perspectives highlight the diverse range of opinions within the community regarding the plan’s impact and approach to fostering reconciliation.
The plan acknowledges the small percentage of First Nations population in Wyndham but emphasizes the importance of reconciliation efforts. It outlines specific actions that the Council aims to take over the next two years to build relationships, respect, and opportunities for the First Nations People.
Concerns Raised Over Broad Plan
Despite the low engagement with the broader Wyndham community, the Council approved the draft RAP to proceed for public exhibition, and the feedback received during this period has been considered and incorporated into the final plan. While community feedback was supportive overall, concerns were raised about the plan being perceived as too broad and rigid due to following the Reconciliation Australia framework.
Meetings and consultations have occurred with Wyndham’s two Registered Aboriginal Parties. Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation who are the Registered Aboriginal party to the west of the Werribee River and the Registered Aboriginal Party to the east, the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation.
$2.3 Million Spent on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Businesses.
Amidst the adoption of the Wyndham Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2023-2025, Wyndham City Council showcases its commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.
Over the last five years, the Council has achieved a significant direct spend of $2,292,947.77 under the capital works budget with its commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, the breakdown as follows:
- Year 1 (2015/16): $470,934.92
- Year 2 (2016/17): $462,739.51
- Year 3 (2017/18): $555,353.58
- Year 4 (2018/19): $418,279.99
- Year 5 (2019/20): $385,639.77
Supporting a Small Proportion of Wyndham's Population
Despite the challenges in engaging the community, the Council remains committed to progressing reconciliation efforts in Wyndham. By adopting the Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2023-2025, the Council seeks to create a more inclusive and respectful environment for the First Nations Community, even as they represent a small proportion of the city’s total population.