A message from the Mayor about our first Dawn Reflection

31 January 2023

On behalf of Waverley Council and my fellow Waverley Councilors, I would like to thank the community for attending our first Dawn Reflection on Thursday 26 January at Bondi Beach.

Around 1000 people from across Sydney and beyond joined us for this milestone gathering to acknowledge the resilience and survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their continuous connection to Country and culture.

The event brought together people young and old to reflect, acknowledge and learn from the Traditional Custodians of our land.

The mood was serene, respectful and peaceful and seeing the sun rise over a very calm ocean was the perfect backdrop, making it a very special event.

I would like to thank Uncle Dean Kelly for his heartfelt words and leading our smoking ceremony with the Yuin Gurandgi dancers (Kevin, Tyden, Matt and Richie); Walangari Karntawarra for performing the didgeridoo, and the Gamay Dancers (Leon, David, Yarraan, Qaidon, Sean, Robert, Allan, Jonas, Baya and William) from La Perouse. A special acknowledgement too to Elder and knowledge keeper, Aunty Barb Simms who stood with Uncle Dean during his welcome to country.

I would also like to thank the Council’s Community Programs and Outdoor Events team for their planning and coordination.

The Dawn Reflection was an action of Council’s Reconciliation Action Plan Advisory (RAP) Committee, established in 2021 to provide cultural advice, guidance, feedback and support around the implementation and monitoring of actions, projects and commitments identified in Council’s Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan.

Council understands that 26 January has multiple meanings and it can be a difficult day for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It can be considered a day of mourning, but also a day to acknowledge the ongoing resilience and survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditions and cultures. It is not only a time to reflect, but also an opportunity to learn from our First Nations people which will help Council mark 26 January in a more complete way in future years. I also hope that other councils will follow our example and organise similar events.

In 2000, Waverley Council was one of the first Councils in NSW to adopt a Statement of Commitment to Reconciliation as follows:

  • Waverley Council acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are the first people of this land and were dispossessed by the European occupation more than two centuries ago. The arrival of Europeans brought massive change to the land and to First Australians
  • Waverley Council acknowledges and grieves for the loss by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of their lands, their children, their health and their lives. However, we also celebrate their survival and the survival of their cultures
  • We support the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to determine their own future and recognise their right to live according to their own values and customs
  • We commit ourselves to respecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s sacred sites and special places
  • Council recognises the valuable contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and looks forward to a future of mutual respect and harmony
  • Council supports the entire community in working together for Reconciliation.

In October last year, Council also resolved to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Voice to Parliament, and the Makarrata.

Would you like to learn more about the Uluru Statement From the Heart? Visit the new webpage on Council's website where you can read the statement and access some helpful educational resources. You can also fill in a short survey on our Have Your Say page expressing your interest in any upcoming community events relating to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and a Voice to Parliament.

Paula Masselos

Mayor of Waverley