As the level of government closest to communities, Reconciliation Victoria works with the state's 79 councils to encourage strong relationships with local Aboriginal communities and promote leadership on reconciliation.
Local councils are well-placed to work with Aboriginal communities to drive positive change in areas such as employment and economic development, health and wellbeing, recognition and respect, civic participation, land use planning, and protection of cultural heritage.
Over the past two decades many Victorian local governments have been involved in the journey towards reconciliation. Given the diversity of local governments and the communities they represent, there is great variability in the approaches and activities of the 79 municipalities across the state, with some very committed and active councils, and others taking tentative steps.
Reconciliation Victoria's engagement with the local government sector since 2010 is outlined below. Key features of this work are a Research Report, a Statewide Survey, the Maggolee website and the HART Awards. We will continue to work closely with local governments as resources allow, supporting them to build strong and respectful relationships with Aboriginal communities.
Maggolee Online Resource
Maggolee means ‘here in this place’ in Woi wurrung, the language of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation.
The Maggolee website, launched in 2015, assists Councils to work more closely with Aboriginal communities and promote reconciliation. This unique online resource was developed in response to the findings of our 2011 Action Research and 2012 Statewide Survey - see below - which identified access to information as a key barrier to Local Government action on Aboriginal engagement and reconciliation. The website was developed with input from the Municipal Association of Victoria, the Victorian Local Governance Association, Local Government Professionals, the Koori Youth Council and with funding support from the Victorian Government.
Maggolee celebrates and supports good practice among Victorian local councils engaging with Aboriginal communities and advancing reconciliation.
Maggolee is a ‘one stop shop’ that promotes cultural awareness and includes information on policies, programs and protocols, latest news and events. There is also place-based information on each of the 79 Victorian local government areas, including key contacts in Council and Aboriginal organisations, Aboriginal community profiles, information on local reconciliation activities, and links to relevant documents, policies and programs.
It includes case studies on how councils can better partner with Aboriginal communities on service delivery, the arts, reconciliation, land use, planning and cultural heritage, and support for Aboriginal employment and economic participation.
Maggolee includes interactive maps and information about Victoria, detailing Aboriginal languages, Registered Aboriginal Parties, and Local Government Areas, making it a useful tool for students, educators and those wanting to expand their knowledge of Aboriginal Victoria.
Reconciliation Victoria conducts workshops with Councils to demonstrate and promote the website, and to seek input and feedback to continually improve the resource.
Maggolee is funded by the Victorian Government and was developed in conjunction with Aboriginal Victoria, the Municipal Association of Victoria, Local Government Victoria, the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA), Local Government Professionals (LGPro) and the Koorie Youth Council.
In 2014 Reconciliation Victoria and the Victorial Local Governance Association launched the annual HART Awards – Helping Achieve Reconciliation Together. These Awards recognise good practice in reconciliation in the Local Government and Community sectors. The Awards respond to the need for sharing good practice that was identified in our earlier research and survey – see below. They aim to shine a light on examples of respectful partnerships between Aboriginal and other Victorians that achieve positive local outcomes, and in doing so inspire and guide others to further action.
Reconciliation in Local Government Action Research Project
In 2010-11 Reconciliation Victoria led the Reconciliation in Local Government Action Research Project, in partnership with VLGA and Reconciliation Australia, and with funding support from Aboriginal Affairs Victoria.
The aim of the project was to explore the usefulness, advantages and limitations of the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) tool in assisting Victorian local governments to advance reconciliation. The project assisted three local councils to develop Reconciliation Action Plans - Baw Baw Shire Council and the Cities of Whittlesea and Stonnington.
The project report made a number of recommendations related to RAPs and local government, and for peak bodies and State Government regarding support for the Local Government sector.
Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Survey 2012
As a follow-up to the Reconciliation in Local Government Action Research Project, Reconciliation Victoria developed the Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Survey in partnership with VLGA, LGPro, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), and the Victorian Indigenous Youth Advisory Council (VIYAC), with support from the Victorian State Government.
Over 95% of councils responded to the survey, which revealed a significant increase in activities and commitments to reconciliation in the sector in the decade since the 2002 Toomnangi Report was published by the MAV Inter-agency Indigenous Coordination Committee for Local Government.
Councils were provided with a report of their own responses compared with the statewide responses, in addition to the Overview Report, to encourage councils to reflect on the strengths of their current policies and practices and to support planning and programming to address gaps.
The Survey has been central in informing Reconciliation Victoria’s approach to working with the local government sector.
A summary of the key findings of the survey can be found here.
Victorian Aboriginal and Local Government Action Plan
Reconciliation Victoria has also provided feedback to the Victorian Aboriginal and Local Government Action Plan, an important resource developed by Local Government Victoria for councils across the state, as they work towards:
- Improving relationships with Aboriginal communities
- Promoting Reconciliation
- Engaging Aboriginal people in planning, decision-making, employment, programs and services across all areas of their organisations.
The plan was the outcome of a three year consultation process undertaken by Local Government Victoria’s Aboriginal Partnership Project, and is a resource that will allow councils to develop and strengthen best practices in engagement, partnership and employment opportunities with their local Aboriginal communities.
The Victorian Aboriginal and Local Government Action Plan can be found here.