why is this important?

Engagement plans and strategies are an important process in ensuring that there are formal structures to hold councils’ decision-making accountable to and representative of the local First Peoples communities' views and needs.

The 2020 Reconciliation Barometer found that 95% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and 91% of the general community feel our relationship is important. Engagement plans and strategies reflect and strengthen these relationships by demonstrating council’s formal commitment to the local community and to reconciliation.

Council’s should engage with the local First Peoples community at all stages of the process for engagement plans and strategies, including the development of their structures. There are many structures that engagement plans and strategies can take form in. The most suitable structure for councils’ plans and strategies is the structure that the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members believe will foster the most meaningful engagement.

Recommended Strategies

  • Reconciliation Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program provides a common framework to develop plans that outline practical actions council will take to build strong relationships and enhance respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the wider community.
  • Develop formal consultation processes with local First Peoples communities to ensure that engagement is meaningful and that decision-making is self-determined and accountable.
  • Work with other local organisations, such as Local Reconciliation Groups, to promote and support the delivery and development of plan and strategy actions.
  • Create a formal working group within Council for the development of engagement plans and strategies.
  • Hire a First Peoples Liaison Officer to facilitate culturally safe engagement between Council and local First Peoples communities.

Case Studies

Glenelg Shire Council’s ‘Glenelg Aboriginal Partnerships Agreement’ is the third document developed between Council and the local community, building on previous agreements. The Agreement is structured in two parts. The first part outlines the broad principles that underpin the Agreement and frames the purposes and context of the Agreement. The second part outlines the specific tasks that have been agreed to be completed within the timeframe of the Agreement and allocates the responsibility for the completion and reporting on the work. Included in this second part is the requirement for an independent evaluation of what is being done to ensure that the aims of the Agreement are being best met.

The Glenelg Aboriginal Partnerships Agreement was created through Council’s partnership with Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation, Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service and Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.

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