The Coast’s Welcome to Country may change after Council-under-administration’s first meeting of 2024, to be held on Tuesday, January 23.
Administrator Rik Hart is being asked to put the words “Darkinjung Country” back into the Welcome.
Mr Hart removed the words when he adopted the Welcome to Country and Council’s First Nations Accord in December 2022, saying he would leave it to a new Aboriginal advisory committee to decide upon future reference to any particular group.
Now, the Aboriginal Advisory Committee, after first meeting in October 2023, workshopped a new Welcome to Country in December and Mr Hart is being asked to formally adopt it.
“Barry Duncan (one of the committee members) would like it acknowledged that Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council is the cultural authority on the Central Coast,” the minutes say.
“He stated that Darkinjung are being shown as a development company which is untrue and this diminishes the hard work they do for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island community.
“In-depth discussions and workshopping occurred and it was decided that a vote was to take place due to a divide on the Committee agreeing on Acknowledgement 1 or 2,” the minutes say.
Seven of the eight committee members attended the meeting.
When the First Nations Accord was on public exhibition early in 2022, Council conceded there were conflicting views within the local Aboriginal community regarding recognition of Traditional Ownership of local lands.
Some submissions recommended that Darkinjung be removed from the document and replaced with Guringai and Darkinoong.
Other submissions specifically noted that Darkinjung were the recognised Authority on the Central Coast, and no other groups should be considered.
In response Council said: “With no registered or determined Native Title claims locally, the draft Accord acknowledges and respects the role and function of Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, the locally established statutory body with the mandated responsibility to represent and care for the local Aboriginal community and manage local Aboriginal lands, Culture and Heritage.
“The largest group of Indigenous people within the Central Coast LGA are those who identify as being part of Darkinjung; and Darkinjung has the overwhelming support of community-controlled organisations, and the broader Indigenous community,” Council said.
The Welcome to Country now is:
“We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live, work and play. We pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging and recognise their continued connection to these lands and waterways. We acknowledge our shared responsibility to care for and protect our place and people.”
Mr Hart is being asked to adopt this:
“We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live, work and play. We pay our respects to Darkinjung country, and Elders past and present. We recognise the continued connection to these lands and waterways, and extend this acknowledgement to the homelands and stories of those who also call this place home. We recognise our future leaders and the shared responsibility to care for and protect our place and people.”