Waverley Council celebrates milestone step towards reconciliation

9 December 2019

Community leaders gathered at Waverley Council chambers this morning to celebrate the launch of the Council’s Innovate Reconciliation (RAP) Plan.

The RAP is Waverley Council’s commitment to reconciliation and will guide the Council’s efforts towards reconciliation as an organisation and in partnership with the community.

Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos (pictured- above), congratulated the RAP Working Group, community members, Reconciliation Australia and other key stakeholders for helping develop this guiding document.

“Waverley Council has been working towards reconciliation for decades and pride itself on being one of the first Councils in Australia to endorse a Statement for Reconciliation in the late 1990’s,” Mayor Masselos said.

“In our community consultations, and in our strategic plans, the Waverley community consistently raises the importance of learning about and protecting our Indigenous heritage.

“When it came to developing this RAP, we listened to our community and responded with a plan of action to address some of the needs of our organisation and community to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage and advance Reconciliation in our community and organisation.

“The development of the plan wasn’t a usual- policy development process. It involved many stakeholders, community members, Council staff and key agencies to gather feedback on what Council was doing well, and what we needed to do better, and improvement is something we should always strive for.”

Council launched its first RAP in 2014 following a Statement of Commitment to Reconciliation the Council made in 2000.

“For the past 20 years, we’ve partnered on the Eastern Region Local Government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Forum to advance reconciliation in our community,” Mayor Masselos said.

(Above) Kate Delaney, RAP program manager, Reconciliation Australia congratulated Waverley Council on its ongoing efforts towards reconciliation.

The development of the RAP included:

* staff consultations

* individual meetings

* group meetings

* RAP working group meetings

* A community breakfast

* individual meetings with community members, committees and various networks

* public exhibition of the document

“We did all these things because we wanted the document to reflect our needs as an organisation and that of the community,” Mayor Masselos said.

“It’s taken us 18 months to arrive at this point, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we have achieved. Today’s launch is to highlight and celebrate the work done so far and most importantly, build momentum for the work that needs to happen from the action plan.

“There are many deliverables and actions that require a whole of Council approach and community support to achieve, and this is true of the RAP.

“This is a huge achievement for our Council to be so actively involved in reconciliation and with the RAP movement.”

One of the key actions of the RAP is Council’s support of its Elsa Dixon School-based trainees. For the past two years, three Elsa Dixon trainees have been working at Council as part of a program that helps students undertake their certificate-level qualifications at school while gaining work experience in a government setting.

Guests of honour: Mayor Masselos with Elsa Dixon trainees Paige Edwards, Blaine Sines and Tadisha-Jane Jaques.

(Above) Waverley Councillor Dominic Wy Kanak congratulated the Elsa Dixon trainees for their hard work and dedication.

Aboriginal artist Natalie Bateman created the artwork on the cover of the RAP specifically for Waverley Council. The artwork celebrates the many aspects of the Waverley area, including its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and multicultural influences. It depicts a whale (Buri-buri) which has a strong and significant meaning to the Aboriginal community of La Perouse, where Natalie grew up. The dotted arches represent the iconic Bondi Pavilion and is an acknowledgement to the area’s vibrant and rich art scene.