Forum gives clear voice

Alexander ScottNorth West Telegraph
Jeremy Marklew, Maureen Kelly, Kai McVea and Michelle Cornwall.
Camera IconJeremy Marklew, Maureen Kelly, Kai McVea and Michelle Cornwall. Credit: Alexander Scott

A recent forum in Port Hedland found that embracing and celebrating Kariyarra culture was the key to continuing reconciliation.

The meeting, held at the Lotteries House in South Hedland last month, saw 36 community members contribute ideas on how to refine and improve the Town of Port Hedland’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

The original plan, developed in 2016, set out actions for the organisation to follow, including ensuring there were no barriers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from gaining employment and giving new facilities Kariyarra names.

During the meeting, community members discussed ways to improve respect and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as well as techniques the Town could use to celebrate and embrace Kariyarra culture.

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Yindjibarndi and Ngarluma elder Maureen Kelly said the meeting was a success because Aboriginal people could see they were involved and listened to.

“We are a multicultural community, and that is what we want to promote,” she said.

Mrs Kelly said one of the outcomes was to have local Kariyarra words used widely in Port Hedland.

“That way, if you see a Kariyarra name, you know that it belongs to Port Hedland,” she said.

“We are working side by side and walking together, and we have one community and one voice.”

TOPH commissioner Fred Riebeling said the forum would guide how the Town developed the RAP for 2020.

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Forum resulted in a number of positive outcomes for the Town, attendees, and the community,” he said.

“The primary outcome from the forum was the valuable comm-unity feedback provided on the Town’s draft Reconciliation Action Plan, with the final version set to be launched in the 2020 Reconciliation Week.”

Mr Riebeling said the final report would be split into themes of respect, relationships, opportunities and governance, and tracking.

Mr Riebeling said the next Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Forum would be held in late February or March next year, with the final plan released in May.

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