HART Awards Winners & Finalists 2018

The HART Awards were presented at an event in Melbourne on Friday 1 June 2018 at the Korin Gamadji Institute, during National Reconciliation Week.

The 5th annual HART Awards were presented by Reconciliation Victoria, in partnership with VLGA and supported by Bank Australia and Local Government Victoria. The Awards recognise Victorian initiatives that contribute to local reconciliation outcomes.

The winners receive a beautiful handcrafted coolamon as an award and each community organisation category winner was awarded a prize of $1000 to support their reconciliation initiatives. 

2018 HART Award Finalists Booklet

The 2018 Winners and Highly Commended Awardees are: 

Local Government Category


Greater Shepparton City Council for Dana Djirrungana Dunguludja Yenbena-I (Proud Strong Aboriginal People) Aboriginal Street Art Project


East Gippsland Shire Council for Our Commitment to Reconciliation

Moonee Valley City Council for Babepal Paen-mirring – Ceremonial Rock Circle 

Community Engagement Category


Lake Bolac Eel Festival Inc for the 12th Lake Bolac Eel Festival


The Torch for their Confined 9 Exhibition. 

Changing the Way we Work Category  


Inner North West Primary Care Partnership for the Working in Two Worlds Initiative

Congratulations to all finalists (see full listing below) for their ongoing commitment to progressing reconciliation across Victoria.

2108 Finalists:

Local Government Category

Greater Shepparton – Dana Djirrungana Dunguludja Yenbena-I (Proud Strong, Aboriginal People) – Aboriginal Street Art Project

Darebin – Welcome to Country Professional Development 2017

East Gippsland – Our Commitment to Reconciliation

Glen Eira – Glen Eira Planning for Reconciliation program

Moonee Valley – Babepal Paen-mirring - Ceremonial Rock Circle

Mount Alexander – Australia Day Awards Ceremony – Survival Day Component

Community Engagement Category

Activities invite people to connect with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and knowledge and start to raise awareness of our true history and its ongoing impact. These activities move people to learn more and discover how they might be involved in reconciliation.

Lake Bolac Eel Festival Inc – 12th Lake Bolac Eel Festival

Bundjil Nest Project – Womin Djeka Balnarring Ngargee Festival

Merri Health – The Little Long Walk

Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place – Together in Harmony Event

The Torch – Confined 9 Exhibition

Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association – Reconciliation Walk Mornington Peninsula


Change The Way We Work Category

This category begins to challenge the power dynamics that exist in our institutions, systems and structures as a legacy of colonization. These activities embed Aboriginal knowledge and ways of working in our mainstream institutions.

Inner North West Primary Care Partnership – Working in Two Worlds Initiative

VACCA and Moondani Balluk (Victoria Uni) – Footprints for Success

Woor-Dungin – Aboriginal Partnership Program

See below for full project descriptions:

Local Government Category:

Darebin City Council: Welcome to Country Professional Development

Based on the themes, meanings and cultural practices detailed in Aunty Joy Murphy’s book ‘Welcome to Country’, Darebin City Council held a Professional Development session in 2017 for early years and primary educators. Providing educators with the tools of cultural education increases cultural safety within their services and empowers the younger members of the community with an appreciation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

Over 180 early years and primary school staff attended the event and stated that they appreciated having a deeper understanding of the Welcome to Country (Tanderrum) ceremony and felt more comfortable incorporating aspects of Aboriginal culture into their teachings.

East Gippsland Shire Council: Our Commitment to Reconciliation

Through the short film ‘Our Commitment to Reconciliation’, East Gippsland Shire Council was able to connect their staff and the wider community with the history and culture of the Traditional Custodians of the land encompassing East Gippsland Shire - the Gunaikurnai, Monero and Bidawel Peoples.

The film production engaged and featured local Aboriginal people, organisations and landmarks. In particular, Aunty Doctor Doris Paton, Rob Hudson, The Krowathunkoolong Keeping Place and Gratten Mullett, GLaWAC.  Its easy access online allows it to be used in a flexible training delivery model, which has already been rolled out to major organisations with further distribution to follow.

Council aims to embed cultural change through increased mutual understanding and effective partnerships. The project assists staff, and staff within other local organisations, with increased knowledge of local history, acknowledgement and respect for our local Aboriginal communities and culture.

Glen Eira City Council: Glen Eira Planning for Reconciliation in Action

Glen Eira City Council’s Reconciliation in Action Program has created a change culture within Glen Eira that is unifying the community and building an organisation that promotes cultural safety and inclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The program brings together 10 different business units, led by an external Advisory Group that includes Traditional Owner representatives, local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents and workers.

The Program has led to many successes including a Memorandum of Agreement between the Boon Wurrung Foundation and Glen Eira City Council, the redefinition of council’s Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony and events that showcase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history, storytelling and art.

City of Greater Shepparton: Dana Djirrungana Dunguludja Yenbena-I (Proud, Strong, Aboriginal People) – Aboriginal Street Art Project

 Dana Djirrungana Dunguludja Yenbena-I (Proud, Strong, Aboriginal People) is a street art project revealing and celebrating Greater Shepparton’s Aboriginal past and present. It features a series of murals highlighting significant historical Aboriginal Elders bringing their presence into the local landscape.  The launch of the first mural of Uncle William Cooper and Uncle Doug Nicholls, was attended by over 500 people. Second in the series, is the local Aboriginal digger mural, which acknowledges Aboriginal people who fought in the war, was completed in the first week in April 2018. The third mural in the project features Aunty Margaret Tucker (MBE) and Nanny Nora Charles was launched on 29th May 2018.

The murals make up a trail that invites engagement with local Aboriginal history and culture. The project aims to instill pride in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and to collectively celebrate the Indigenous community and its history. 

Moonee Valley City Council: Babepal Paen-mirring Ceremonial Rock Circle

The Babepal Paen-mirring Ceremonial Rock Circle was developed at Five Mile Creek Reserve, Essendon to recognise a registered site of Aboriginal significance and protect artefacts scattered at the site. Moonee Valley City Council engaged the Wurundjeri Land Council and the Wurundjeri Narrap team who suggested establishing the site as a meeting place for the whole community to use.

The site was named Babepal Paen-mirring, meaning ‘Mother’s tear’ in Woi wurrung, with large rocks placed in the shape of an eye. As part of the restoration of the site, native plants including Lomandra, Dianella, Murnong and native grasses were reintroduced to provide future opportunities for activities including weaving, harvesting traditional foods of the area, and indigenous burning.

The site is an important part of a broader approach to educate the community about the significance of this area to the Wurundjeri People, and hold ceremonies and demonstrations of Wurundjeri life.

Mount Alexander Shire Council: Australia Day Awards: Survival Day Component

Mount Alexander Shire Council has introduced a Survival Day component to their annual Australia Day ceremony. For the 2018 Australia Day community event, a focus was to highlight the significant partnership between the local DjaDja Wurrung community and Council, and to tackle the controversy around Australia Day head on, through the inclusion of the ‘Survival Day’ component. The aim was to highlight and encourage open discussions about the impact of Australia Day on the Indigenous community.

Given the increasing focus on the Indigenous perspective of Australia Day, this year the collective decision was made to deliver the Australia Day event in partnership with Nalderun. Consultation was undertaken to explore the ways in which they could enhance and increase the number of meaningful Indigenous elements incorporated into the ceremony, and how to address the divisive issue of how Australia Day celebrations impact on Aboriginal people.


Community Engagement Category:

Bundjil Nest Project – Womin Djeka Balnarring Ngargee Festival

The Womin Djeka Balnarring Ngargee is a festival designed to promote cross-cultural awareness, bringing community together in a vibrant, family-friendly outdoor event that celebrates the Balnarring community, First People’s culture and connects the broader community to the ancient history of the land. The festival included Indigenous musical acts, workshops, presentations along with a Welcome to Country and guidance by N’Arweet Carolyn Briggs.

The festival created an opportunity for the community to learn together, exposing participants to First Peoples’ stories, emphasizing a shared history and highlighting everyone’s role in reconciliation. As Kutcha Edwards describes, these actions are like ‘dropping a pebble’ which creates ripples to understanding, healing and a socially just future for all.

Lake Bolac Eel Festival Inc – 12th Lake Bolac Eel Festival: Kuyang Lapakira – plenty eels

The 2018 Lake Bolac Eel Festival was the 12th contemporary festival held on the shore of Lake Bolac in Western Victoria. The Lake has been a traditional meeting place on the junction of four Indigenous regions, and for thousands of years large social gatherings have formed at this sacred place following the annual migrations of eels/kuyang.

The 2018 Eel Festival continued this history of lakeside gatherings, bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to share, learn, remember and celebrate by highlighting the importance of ‘Caring for Country and Caring for Community’ through music, art, forums and presentations.

The festival invited people to share insights, listen to and ask questions of Elders, scientists, academics, artists, musicians, and front runners in social change. Through this event, participants form new relationships and take meaningful steps towards reconciliation.

Merri Health – The Little Long Walk

Annually, a Moreland primary school participates in ‘The Little Long Walk’, an event commemorating Michael Long’s 2004 walk from Melbourne to Canberra to meet the Prime Minister and put Indigenous issues back on the national agenda. The Moreland event is attended by Michael, who speaks to the students and their families about his walk, the importance of introducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies into schools, and how they, the students and families, can create change.

The students research Aboriginal history, the meaning of reconciliation and Michael’s historic walk and then present this to the whole school community at an assembly. They also walk along the Merri Creek to the Aboriginal Community Elders Services where they take part in cultural activities including music, storytelling and art and have morning tea with Elders.

Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place – Together in Harmony Event

Together in Harmony was an event held in partnership between the Communities Council on Ethnic Issues, Eastern Region and Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place. The event was a day of music and cultural exchange with all communities from the eastern area invited to participate. The day began with an Acknowledgment of Country by Aunty Daphne Milward followed by a Smoking Ceremony, with a separate Friendship Ceremony from the Karen community.

Two choirs from the Burmese community explained their songs and performed, as did the Mullum Mullum Choir. Members of several communities, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, spoke about their backgrounds and both choirs involved the audience in a group singing of ‘We Are Australian’. The event showcased the strength of the local Aboriginal and local migrant communities creating a ‘sense of togetherness and demonstrating ‘strength in difference’.

The Torch – Confined 9 Exhibition

The Torch is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support to Indigenous offenders and ex-offenders in Victoria through art, cultural and arts vocational programs. Confined 9 is The Torch’s annual exhibition that features artworks by Indigenous artists currently in, or recently released from, prisons in Victoria. The exhibition showcased 190 artworks from 172 men and women, attracting over 1,200 visitors.

Confined 9 provides the context for cultural exchange between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people through art. The artworks and conversations explored through Confined 9 include issues of identity, art, connection to culture and Country, and the increasing rate of incarceration for Aboriginal Australians. These conversations and the cultural exchange contribute to increased respect and understanding for Aboriginal Australians and the broader goals of reconciliation.

Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association – Reconciliation Walk Mornington Peninsula

Willum Warrain’s inaugural Reconciliation Walk was held on Mabo Day 2017, engaging 500 people on the Mornington Peninsula. The event engaged participants in a walk and cultural activities and finished with a Welcome to Country, smoking ceremony and free BBQ at Willum Warrain’s ngargee ground. The Walk was supported by a wide range of organisations from the local community, including local police, CFA and the Cerberus Naval Base.

The entire event promotes the local Aboriginal history and presence on the Mornington Peninsula and provides an opportunity to build awareness, positive relationships and respect across the Mornington Peninsula community. Willum Warrain actively seeks to be a destination for reconciliation on the Mornington Peninsula. They stage large scale events promoting opportunities for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to connect via their Gathering Place.

Change The Way We Work Category:

Inner North West Primary Care Partnership – Working in Two Worlds Initiative

The Working in Two Worlds initiative aims to assist mainstream organisations to become more accessible, culturally safe and appropriate for Aboriginal people by supporting the recruitment and retention of the local Aboriginal workforce. Although there have been improvements in cultural responsiveness of mainstream organisations, Aboriginal people working in mainstream organisations report that they are still regularly exposed to culturally based hazards.

These hazards impact their personal health and wellbeing and undermine their ability to support their community. The Working in Two Worlds initiative developed a Walk with Us video, facilitated Working in Two Worlds consultations and created ‘From Symbols to Systems Framework’ as a resource to guide mainstream organisations to address culturally based hazards and improve cultural security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

VACCA and Moondani Balluk (Victoria Uni) – Footprints for Success

The Footprints for Success initiative brings together an alliance of partners. The alliance partners include the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), mainstream community health, early year’s services and local government authorities in the western local government areas of Wyndham, Brimbank and Maribyrnong. The alliance partners collaborate to ensure young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have access to supportive, culturally appropriate services.

More than 70 families and over 100 children have been assisted in navigating the health and early year’s services systems with confidence. Solid relationships have been built between alliance partners, workers and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, through the project’s focus on practices such as deep listening and building trust and respect with families.

Woor-Dungin – Aboriginal Partnership Program

The Aboriginal Partnership Program is Woor-Dungin’s core program and is founded upon relationships. Woor-Dungin’s Aboriginal Partnership Program develops genuine relationships, based on reconciliation, reciprocity and trust with a small number of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations over three-year periods. Woor-Dungin then supports each organisation in achieving their self-identified priorities, fostering respectful relationships between the organisations and the philanthropic sector, to increase the funding flow to enable Aboriginal organisations to better meet community needs.

The partnerships built are collaborative, responsive and based in self-determination. The program has been running for more than ten years thanks to the dedicated work of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal paid and unpaid staff, committee members, Woor-Dungin members, philanthropic and pro-bono supporters and a broad range of stakeholders who have collaborated on the programs and its partner-informed activities over that time.