‘Proud’ Douglas Shire praised at Queensland Reconciliation Awards


THE Douglas Shire Council’s strong relationship with Jabalbina and the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owners was recognised last night in Cairns when Council and Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation jointly received a Highly Commended Award at the 2017 Queensland Reconciliation Awards.

The award was presented by the Premier and Minister for Local Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships.

Mayor Julia Leu said the awards night was a wonderful celebration of reconciliation initiatives throughout the State.

“And we are very proud to jointly receive the award with Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation in the partnerships’ category,” she said.

“Our nomination is for the strong relationship Council developed with Jabalbina and the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owners through the development of the ‘Return to Country’ initiatives in the Douglas Planning Scheme. We were nominated by Jabalbina,” said Leu.

Leu, meanwhile, has also stressed the importance of Reconciliation Week, which ends this week, and has used her personal experiences to stress her strong beliefs.

“Reconciliation Week means a lot to me personally, as I have been privileged to work with indigenous communities since the early 1980s.

“At that time, I was told horrific stories about the impacts of the stolen generations, as well as the importance of cultural pride and celebration.

“The Douglas Shire is blessed to have a very strong indigenous culture shared by traditional custodians and I welcome any opportunity that encourages our indigenous community to speak up and engage with the wider community,” she said.

Last Friday, Council hosted a Sorry Day ceremony with special guest speaker Christine Lynch from the Elders Justice Group at its Mossman Administration Building.

Council also hosted senior students from Mossman State High School in the Council Chambers for a special screening of short films on the 1967 referendum and Mabo decision.

Ms Leu said Reconciliation Week is an opportunity to celebrate two milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey: the 1967 referendum and the historic Mabo decision.

“It is also a time to reflect on the mistakes made in the past in regards to how we as a society treated our indigenous peoples and ensure that every effort is made in the future to provide more opportunities for our First Australians.”

Ms Leu said that making sure that Aboriginal people are not disadvantaged in any way is becoming more important in our society.

“I believe this is important as the wider population gains a greater understanding of the pain and loss of culture suffered by many in the past,” she said.

Ms Leu said a lot more can be done to further improve education, employment and cultural outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“However, I am pleased that in the Douglas Shire we’re probably further progressed in these endeavours than many parts of Australia,” she said.

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