Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience vast differences in life expectancy, health, education, employment, and standards of living compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts.

The diversity of First Peoples of the Tablelands Regional lands provides a home rich in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and culture. It is important we continue to celebrate the uniqueness of our communities, while understanding the historical and ongoing impact of our colonial past.

We started out on this journey of understanding in December 2016 by establishing a working group to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The RAP is based on Reconciliation Australia’s framework and is not a legislative requirement but a practical plan of action to build relationships, respect and opportunities.

Our Reflect RAP was endorsed by Council and Reconciliation Australia in May 2018 and implemented over the following 12 months.  Some of the outcomes include:

  • increased connection with First Nations peoples and organisations
  • cultural capability training delivered to our Executive Leadership and Leadership teams
  • change to our standing orders to include acknowledgement of country prior to each Council meeting
  • welcome to country / acknowledgement of country delivered to all civic events
  • inclusion of acknowledgement of country in our email signature
  • installation of flag poles at our Atherton office to fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags
  • acknowledgement of country and national apology displayed in our Atherton Customer Service Centre
  • acknowledgement of country displayed in customer service centres, visitor information centres and libraries
  • establishment of relationships with local and regional arts and cultural communities to deliver culturally specific programs in the region.

We continued on the journey of Reconciliation Australia’s framework and developed an Innovate RAP. Endorsed by Council in June 2020 and Reconciliation Australia in August 2020, the Innovate RAP provides us with a clear direction to continue to advance reconciliation in the region.

We acknowledge the RAP Working Group (now Reconciliation Action Advisory Committee) and are grateful for the essential participation and guidance of our Traditional Custodians who represent our region’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

On 13 February 2008, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally acknowledged the suffering caused by decades of mistreatment of Indigenous Australians.  The apology took place at 9am as the first action of the first full sitting day of the 42nd Parliament of Australia.  Across the country, crowds gathered in schools, community halls and on parliament lawns to witness the historic event.

Native title recognises the traditional rights and interests to land and waters of some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Under the Native Title Act 1993, native title claimants can make an application to the Federal Court to have their native title recognised by Australian law. In some cases, their claims are recognised by their native title being ‘Determined’ by the Federal Court of Australia.

In implementing the requirements of native title, we work with nine recognised Native Title parties across our jurisdiction:

  • Bar Barrum People of the area around the Walsh River and to the west of the Wild River
  • Girramay People of the Kirrama area
  • Gugu Badhun People of the Wairuna/Lamonds Lagoon area
  • Jirrbal People of the Koombooloomba, Ravenshoe and Herberton areas
  • Malanbarra and Dulebed People of the Gillies Range area
  • Mamu People of the Millaa Millaa area
  • Ngadjon People of the Malanda and Topaz areas
  • Tableland Yidinji People of the Kairi, Tolga, Tinaroo and Lake Barrine areas
  • Wurrungu People of the Gunnawarra/Goshen area.

Cultural heritage is the physical and non-physical evidence of a culture and can be of Indigenous (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander) or non-Indigenous (historical) origin.

Cultural heritage is things (be they physical objects, cultural practices or places) that we inherit from the past, which we want to keep for the future because they help to define who we are, and by understanding our past, we are better able to manage our future.

We recognise the need to protect cultural heritage (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) and work in conjunction with traditional owners and relevant government agencies to ensure cultural heritage issues are managed accordingly.