COOK Shire councillors have formalised the organisation’s continued commitment to reconciliation, adopting the council’s inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan.
The RAP outlines the organisational framework that the council will employ over the next two years to target the four key focus areas outlined by Reconciliation Australia: relationships, respect, opportunities and governance.
Cook Shire mayor Peter Scott said the council recognised the plan as a chance to continue to drive positive change within the organisation.
“Through improving our workplace culture, nurturing collaborative partnerships with First Nations peoples, promoting diversity and inclusion in our programming, and customising service delivery solutions, we hope to lead and inspire the broader community to also embrace positive actions towards reconciliation,” Cr Scott said.
“We are proud to adopt our inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan, and we are committed to working towards a harmonious and reconciled community for all.”
Strategies outlined in the RAP include the development of cultural awareness training for the council’s staff, the promotion of Indigenous employment and business opportunities, and the establishment of partnerships with local Indigenous organisations.
Cr Scott also highlighted the historical significance of Cooktown, known as Waymburr in Guugu Yimithirr language, as the site where Australia’s first recorded act of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians took place in 1770 during Captain James Cook’s visit.
“Not enough people know the story of what evolved here in Cooktown in 1770 between Cook and the Aboriginal Elder… of how two men from very different worlds overcame language barriers and chasms of cultural differences to peacefully work out a misunderstanding,” he said.
“Cooktown and our shire really is the home of Australia’s reconciliation story. The RAP is the next step in this journey as a community and as a nation.”
Cook Shire Council formed a working group comprising of Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff, senior management and elected members.
The group reviewed feedback and took guidance from Traditional Owners, Reconciliation Australia and community stakeholders to identify where and how the organisation could implement actions to make a lasting difference.
“On behalf of my fellow councillors, I’d like to thank the council’s RAP working group for the many months of hard work and dedication they put into consulting and crafting this document,” Cr Scott said.
Cook Shire’s Innovate RAP 2023-25, featuring artwork by Cooktown student and Kuku Yalanji artist, Ilyaree Snider, is available online and will be formally launched to staff and stakeholders at an event to coincide with NAIDOC Week celebrations in July.