Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owner voices her thoughts on RAP

CULTURE: Racquel Kerr performing a smoking ceremony before Akira embarked or her journey home. Photo: Helen Macdonald

CULTURE: Racquel Kerr performing a smoking ceremony before Akira embarked or her journey home. Photo: Helen Macdonald

Hepburn Shire Council released its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in July, written in collaboration with Traditional Owners. 

Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owner Racquel Kerr was engaged as the designer who put together the artwork and documents for the plan.

She said what was important in the eyes of the Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Corporation was that the Dja Dja Wurrung were acknowledged as the Traditional Owners of Country. 

“This (acknowledgment) is a really good opportunity for RAP’s, but also to promote the engagement with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community as well.”

Ms Kerr said Hepburn Shire was very significant for Dja Dja Wurrung people. 

“There is a lot of traditional association with country there... but also first contact engagement as well because of the mission sites being established there,” she said.

Ms Kerr said the establishment of a RAP was a reflection of their Local Government Protocol, which is an agreement with the state on how engagement with Dja Dja Wurrung people is to occur with all government agencies. 

“(The RAP) is a stepping stone for bodies such as council to walk together with Aboriginal people as opposed to being segregated from them as an authority body.”

Ms Kerr said the RAP was a way forward in education.

“There are still a lot of misconstrued concepts about Aboriginal people in general, who they are and what the culture is. It’s more than spiritual, it’s tangible objects as well and being able to share that knowledge with the wider community informs their decisions around involvement, while broadening their own knowledge. Culture is a part of everybody’s history,” she said.