Council backs reconciliation talk with jobs

THE number of Aboriginals employed by Lismore City Council will rise from 11 to 24 by 2017 as part of the council's new Reconciliation Action Plan launched yesterday.

Lismore is the first council north of Newcastle and just the sixth in the state to launch a reconciliation action plan, under the guidelines of Reconciliation Australia.

As well as increasing job opportunities for Aboriginal Australians, which includes establishing four full-time traineeships, council will deliver cultural awareness training for staff and play a role in National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week events in partnership with the Aboriginal community.

The mood at yesterday's launch was buoyant as councillors and staff celebrated to the sounds of Bundjalung singer-guitarist Billy Smith.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said the RAP was not just fluffy hopes and dreams.

PLANNING AHEAD: Lismore City Council Aboriginal employees with general manager Gary Murphy, Mayor Jenny Dowell and community services co-ordinator Annie McWilliam.
PLANNING AHEAD: Lismore City Council Aboriginal employees with general manager Gary Murphy, Mayor Jenny Dowell and community services co-ordinator Annie McWilliam. Hamish Broome

"It's an action plan, not just empty words on paper," Cr Dowell said.

The RAP features three focus areas: relationships, respect and opportunities, and from these a series of performance indicators upon which the council reports to Reconciliation Australia.

Cr Dowell said the council was stepping up as a leader of reconciliation and setting an example for the region.

"We can't expect other organisations to address the gap for Aboriginal people unless we do it to. We need to set the tone and the stand- ard," she said.

"This is putting our aspirations, our hearts and minds and words into deeds."

Council's road construction leading hand Leon Bolt said the action plan was heartening.

"It feels fair dinkum," he said.

Council's community services co-ordinator Annie McWilliam, who has played a key role since 2010 in devel- oping the plan, said it was all about concrete goals.

"The Reconciliation Action Plan is probably one of the most potent ways to affect social justice for Aboriginal people," she said.

Lismore has 4.5% Aboriginal population average compared with the state average of 2.5%.



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