IMPORTANT: Gooreng Gooreng elder Neola Savage spoke passionately at the launch of Gladstone Regional Council's first Reconciliation Action Plan.
IMPORTANT: Gooreng Gooreng elder Neola Savage spoke passionately at the launch of Gladstone Regional Council's first Reconciliation Action Plan. Julia Bartrim

RAP launch is one more step on the road to reconciliation

"WE'RE ON a journey and we have a long way to go."

These were mayor Matt Burnett's words as he launched the first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) yesterday at Tondoon Botanic Gardens on behalf of Gladstone Regional Council.

Indigenous elders, members of the community and six GRC councillors attended the event.

Cr Burnett said the initial RAP will be the first of four.

 

Gladstone Regional Council mayor Matt Burnett launches the council's first Reconciliation Action Plan at the Tondoon Botanic Gardens.
Mayor Matt Burnett said the RAP was all about inclusiveness. Julia Bartrim

Its focus was not action but rather reflection - looking back on what actions the council had already undertaken to include and acknowledge the indigenous community.

This included raising the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at council chambers, and establishing a RAP working group in June last year.

But for Gooreng Gooreng elder Neola Savage, more action was overdue.

The first RAP did not pave the way for council to provide opportunities for indigenous employment.

"Are you going to start putting a black face behind your counter? Are you going to put a job here or a job there? she asked of the council at the launch.

 

Ms Savage also acknowledged the effort that went into the RAP.

 

The launch of Gladstone Regional Council's first Reconciliation Action Plan at the Tondoon Botanic Gardens.
Perfect weather for the launch of the RAP. Guests enjoyed a barbecue afterwards. Julia Bartrim

"It's very important, we don't want to go home and sit down and put (the RAP) on the shelf," she said.

"We've got all these lovely people here who I believe are going to support this document but it's got to not just rest on them.

"We've got to come to the party too and support it."

Gooreng Gooreng elder Richard Johnson gave a welcome to country.

"On behalf of our mob, thank you to the Gladstone Regional Council and all their staff," he said.

"People like Matt, they are very special people ... we recognise the importance of what we are doing here today."