why is this important?

‘Champions of Change’ denotes the people in our shared history who have led significant work in the fight for truth-telling, justice, and self-determination for First Peoples. It is vital that councils work to redress the lack of representation of First Peoples histories, cultures, and perspectives across their municipality. Councils can do this by acknowledging and promoting First Peoples who have led significant change in their municipality, both from local Traditional Owner Groups and Traditional Owners from across Victoria.
Colonisation caused the displacement and forced removal of many First Peoples from their Traditional Country. Therefore it is appropriate to acknowledge Champions of Change in both the areas they are from and the areas where they led significant change.

Recommended Strategies

  • Acknowledge, promote, and support the work being done by community members to further Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples rights to truth-telling, justice, and self-determination.
  • Recognise past and present Champions of Change. For example, Glen Eira City Council’s ‘Parbin-ata Louisa Briggs’ Award recognises the life and legacy of Parbin-ata Louisa Briggs, and also recognises the recipients of the award who have made significant contributions to reconciliation.
  • In consultation with Traditional Owners, develop public spaces, statues, and artworks that acknowledge Champions of Change in the municipality and share their stories.
  • Develop truthful narratives of local history and people, pre and post colonial, that are available through council and/or accessible in council spaces. Invite First Peoples community members to be a part of this process and to share their knowledges and stories in the development of these accounts of local history.
  • Conduct audits of educational resources available in council spaces, and ensure council facilities have resources available that promote local champions of change (e.g. children’s books in libraries).
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Case Studies

Greater Shepparton City Council revealed a permanent honour to a Champion of Change in 2018 with the unveiling of the Uncle William Cooper statue in Queens Gardens. William Cooper, an Aboriginal political activist and community leader was born on Yorta Yorta Country over 100 years ago. He led many campaigns for the rights of his people, and for the rights of others, including the establishment of NAIDOC Week, the Aboriginal Advancement League, and a Petition to the German Consulate at the persecution of Jews several weeks after Kristallnacht in Germany (6 December 1938). The statue and accompanying plaque in his honour celebrates his life, and acknowledges his lasting local, national, and international legacy. It demonstrates the pride and strength that we all share in acknowledging these Champions of Change.

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