working together

WITH OUR FIRST NATION'S PEOPLES

Working well together is all about relationships – CFA’s Koori Inclusion Action Plan aims to grow and strengthen relationships with Koori people across Victoria by promoting inclusion of Aboriginal people and perspectives in everything we do - from volunteerism and employment to partnerships and service delivery.

"I believe CFA has a lot to offer the Indigenous community and vice-versa. CFA can learn a lot from the local Traditional Owners."
- Professor & Wollithiga Elder Uncle Henry Atkinson

Broadford Brigade cultural day with Uncle Larry Walsh, 2013. Photograph by Marcus Salvago

tips FOR BETTER ABORIGINAL inclusion and engagement

1. Say an 'Acknowledgement of Country' at the very beginning of a meeting or event, or organising a 'Welcome to Country' at a key event

An Acknowledgment of Country can be spoken by anyone who wishes to demonstrate their respect for Koori people and their culture. It can be given at the very beginning of an official meeting or event.

 

The following wording may be used in person (or adapted for print) as an Acknowledgment to Country: "I would like to acknowledge the (local Koori clan group name) people, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are gathered and pay my respects to their Elders both past and present."

 

If you are unsure of who the Traditional Custodians of the area are, we suggest you use the following wording: "I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are gathered and pay my respects to their Elders both past and present."

Organising a 'Welcome to Country' - 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a unique relationship with the land, and consider their country to be more like a friend or relative, to be cared for and respected. The land sustains and provides for them. A ‘Welcome to Country’ is therefore a personal introduction, and an invitation to share and respect the land. For CFA it demonstrates that we respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their culture, and acknowledge their role as the Traditional Owners of the land.

 

A Welcome to Country can only be performed by an Aboriginal Traditional Owner of the land on which an event is being held.

 

For more information on delivering a 'Acknowledgement of Country' or organising a 'Welcome to Country' please see the guide.

The Smoking Ceremony 

Kerang Brigade, 2014.

Video by Marcus Salvagno

2. Make contact with local Aboriginal cooperatives or Aboriginal organisations

There are ten Registered Aboriginal Parties in Victoria and they are a great starting point for information about cultural heritage. There are 39 Local Indigenous Networks (LIN) across Victoria and making contact with your district LIN is also a great way to build local connections.

 

Please refer to the map to identify your local Registered Aboriginal Party.

If you are interested in contacting either group please email kiap@cfa.vic.gov.au for further information and support prior to making contact. 

3. Flying the Aboriginal Flag or Torres Strait Islander Flag

 

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags are important visually and symbolically to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

 

By displaying or reproducing the flags appropriately, you can clearly identify your program/service or event as being specifically for or inclusive of the Koori community, or signify that your workplace is Koori-friendly.

Each of the colours in the Aboriginal flag symbolise different things which are significant to Aboriginal people. Black represents the Aboriginal people of Australia, red represents the red earth, the red ochre and a spiritual relation to the land and yellow represents the sun, the giver of life and protector

Each part of the flag is designed to represent something about Torres Strait Island culture. Green represents the land, blue represents the sea, white represents peace and black represents the Indigenous peoples. The dhari (headdress) represents Torres Strait Island people and the five-pointed star represents the five major Island groups. The star also represents navigation, as a symbol of the seafaring culture of the Torres Strait

4. Place a Welcome sign at the front of the building

As well as or instead of flying the flag(s), place a plaque at the front of a CFA building or station. These plaques can be ordered through the ANTaR website. They are made of metal and are available in small (14cm x 22cm) and large (30cm x 45cm) sizes.

  

5. Naming meeting rooms with Aboriginal names

 

Another way to recognise the importance of the Traditional Custodians of the land is to name rooms such as meeting rooms with Aboriginal names. Think about using names that are either names of significant Aboriginal people or words for some of the significant aspects of our work, such as translations of the words fire, flame or land.

Broadford Brigade cultural day with Uncle Larry Walsh, 2013. Photograph by Marcus Salvago

6. Identifying Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander People when collecting data

CFA has an ongoing commitment to improve the quality and content of its data so that it can better address the needs of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. This information will be used to assist CFA to improve service to Aboriginal people generally, in accordance with the Koori Inclusion Action Plan.

7. Run events or activities on significant Aboriginal dates

CFA brigades or work groups can organise and host Reconciliation Week (May) and NAIDOC Week (July) activities and events in partnership with the local community. It could be a morning tea or a lunch and you could invite a local Elder to come and do a Welcome to Country or a smoking ceremony.

8. Display of Aboriginal artwork

Digital copies of CFA's commissioned artwork, Working Together, by Artist Emma Bamblett are available for download. Please ensure the name of the painting and artist are referenced each time it is used. The original painting is located at CFA Headquarters reception foyer. Twenty copies of the painting are also displayed across the state.

Read the story of this artwork and the meaning of the symbols from CFA KIAP artwork description.

 

9. Include local Aboriginal organisations on mailing lists

Ensure that local Aboriginal cooperatives and community organisations are included on regional/district mailing lists. This will help raise community awareness of new programs, initiatives and events.

 

10. Attend Koori events locally

Attending and participating in Koori events and activities locally is a great way for CFA to build relationships and engage with the local community. It may be as simple as taking a fire truck to the event or having a few of the local members attend.

"Cultural exchange sessions are very important to learn from each other and to help shift community perceptions"

- Aaron 'Rooney' Grambeau, Barengi Gadjin Land Council