A new chapter
Aboriginal voices in council decision-making have been strengthened this week, with the establishment of City of Onkaparinga’s inaugural First Nations People Advisory Group.
The group, which is yet to be formally named, was established to strengthen and formalise the relationship between the City of Onkaparinga and the Kaurna community—the Traditional Owners of Onkaparinga and the wider Adelaide Plains.
It will facilitate greater Kaurna involvement in decision-making, giving Traditional Owners the ability to provide advice on Kaurna matters when council plans for how it’ll deliver projects and services.
Traditional Owner, Karl Winda Telfer, has been appointed inaugural chairperson and he said, “A new cultural circle has been created that opens space for the reclamation, recovery and the renewal of our living culture”.
“We have reset our direction. It’s a new journey of coming together through ways of understanding.
“Now we have the self-determining authority for our culture, our country and our community.”
City of Onkaparinga Mayor Erin Thompson said it was a proud day for council and an integral part of the city’s shared journey towards reconciliation.
“The Kaurna People are the Traditional Owners and custodians of the land in what’s now known as the City of Onkaparinga, and their spiritual relationship with Country has developed over thousands of years,” she said.
“This group is part of a new beginning at council, where we admit we haven’t always got it right and we commit to listening in a deeper way.
“It will see an inclusive approach that recognises the diversity of voices among Traditional Owners, better acknowledging the Aboriginal cultural landscape and its spiritual and cultural significance.”
The group will meet up to six times a year (for up to three hours per meeting) with meeting records to be shared with council’s senior management and elected members to help inform decision-making.
All Traditional Owner members will be remunerated for meeting attendance, recognising their specialist cultural knowledge and advice.
Council says the group will provide a cost-effective method for working directly with Traditional Owners; improve clarity on how council considers Kaurna perspectives in decision-making; more closely involve relevant Aboriginal groups in protecting Aboriginal heritage under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988; and better understand and facilitate Aboriginal spiritual and cultural renewal.
The group’s work will align with other key Kaurna governance and representative structures, including Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation (KYAC – Native Title) and Kaurna Nation Cultural Heritage Association (KNCHA).
The group’s establishment comes just weeks after a Port Noarlunga ceremony to recognise the sacred, cultural and spiritual importance of the Tjilbruke Dreaming Track and the work and activism of Senior Kaurna Meyunna Woman, Georgina Williams.
A new cultural circle
Inaugural Chairperson, Karl Winda Telfer. Photo: Charlie Nicholson