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Posted on 31/05/2019 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

Action for Reconciliation


National Reconciliation Week set the perfect stage for Phillip Island Nature Parks to launch two key documents that demonstrate our commitment to reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples: our third Reconciliation Action Plan and first Memorandum of Understanding with Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation. 

Both documents were launched at an event held at the Koala Reserve on Wednesday 29 May. Nature Parks Board members, staff, volunteers and members of Bass Coast Reconciliation Network and wider community gathered for a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony with Uncle Shane Clarke, Board Member and Dan Turnbull CEO from Bunurong Land Council.

Bunurong Elder and Land Council Chair, Aunty Dyan Summers, then gave a Welcome to Country.

“Our community is now right across Australia due to the process of forced removal,” said Aunty Dyan.

She commended the relationship between the Nature Parks and the Land Council and the positive work going on in reconciliation.

“You have worked very hard to get where we are today. You are the drive behind this Reconciliation Action Plan,” said Aunty Dyan.

Liz Stinson, Nature Parks Board Chair, acknowledged that the Crown Land the Nature Parks is privileged to manage forms part of the traditional lands and waters of the Bunurong people and that the Land, Waters and Sea are of spiritual, cultural and economic importance to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

“This privilege brings with it a responsibility and a desire to recognise and connect with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to work and walk together in caring for Country,” said Liz.

“Our third RAP is a special one and comes at an exciting time for the Nature Parks when reconciliation values are being woven into our strategic, conservation and business planning.”

Liz then officially launched the Plan which was endorsed by Reconciliation Australia and contains 25 measurable actions under the key themes of Relationships, Respect and Opportunities.

The other action for the day was the official signing of the Nature Parks’ first MOU with Bunurong Land Council.

“We are now both custodians of the Land,” said Dan Turnbull.

“This MOU promotes our culture and is about celebrating relationships, reconciliation and recognition.”

Nature Parks Chief Operating Officer Paul Sandells finalised the official proceedings noting the significance of this first MOU which sets goals over the period of one year. He noted the quality conversations being had around reconciliation and note “This is a milestone for the Nature Parks,” said Paul.

“It’s about having trust and confidence in each other, having quality conversations and concrete ways of working in partnership and new ways of working together with Traditional Custodians in Caring For Country. I feel very privileged to be here at this time.”

Each party then signed the MOU and both documents were smoked and announced officially launched. The group then enjoyed a bush foods bbq prepared by Nature Parks staff member Shani Blyth with support from her father Eddie who lives on Flinders Island in Bass Strait.

In July 2017, the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council’s appointed Bunurong Land Council as the Registered Aboriginal Party for an area including Phillip Island. Registered Aboriginal Parties are organisations that hold decision-making responsibilities under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 for protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage in a specified geographical area.

This is the first MOU between the two parties and its intent flows from the desire to develop respectful and meaningful partnerships between the Nature Parks and Phillip Island’s Traditional Custodians. It demonstrates the commitment of both parties to collaboratively work together to care for Country and outlines the priority areas that both parties will focus on including Visitor Experience, Commercial Products, Conservation and Land Management, Input to Nature Parks planning, Employment Opportunities, Cultural Training and Cultural Events and Joint Funding Opportunities. Both parties will meet regularly to progress key initiatives. 




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