At the Mills Park Centre in Beckenham, forty-seven representatives from local government, industry, the community and media joined Perth NRM for the Connecting through Country & Culture forum.
The forum focused on changes to consultation legislation, Native Title Claim, formation of the Noongar Six Body Corporates, importance of engaging Aboriginal business, and excellent working examples of Noongar leadership in land management.
Elders Neville Collard and Walter McGuire lead the Welcome to Country, conducted a Smoking Ceremony on the grass in the sunshine, opening the forum and welcoming the attendees. The first speaker was Wayne Nannup, CEO of the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council, who brought the attendees up-to-date on Native Title Claim and the Six Body Corporates. Following this presentation was Glenn Shaw from the Department of Planning, Land and Heritage speaking about consultation legislation.
Marissa Verma from Bindi Bindi Dreaming spoke of how she built her own successful Aboriginal business and the importance of engaging Aboriginal people, while Leanne Woods from the City of Melville told of how the City developed their Reconciliation Action Plan and the benefits it’s brought to the City and the community.
Nerilee Boshammer from the South Coast Catchment Council and Tristan Duke from Conservation Volunteers Australia shared their stories of Aboriginal leadership in land management and the importance of providing certified training for Aboriginal people. Jade Thompson from Reconciliation WA then spoke of a new state-wide education program regarding Aboriginal cultural and ecological knowledge in development.
At the end of the presentations, speakers were invited to the front as a panel to answer further audience questions. While interest was shown in Aboriginal leadership in land management, the discussion became particularly passionate around the topic of knowledge ownership, sparking excellent discussion.
Following the panel session, one attendee commented “It was confronting because I realised just how little respect is shown to Aboriginal people in my community.” Another attendee commented that it was “great to come and hear such a number of Aboriginal people speak so knowledgably. These are complex ideas embedded in strong emotion, and I felt it was shared and managed well.”