Barang hosts historic cultural workshop

Participants in the Barang Regional Alliance two-day cultural immersion workshop. Image suppliedParticipants in the Barang Regional Alliance two-day cultural immersion workshop. Image supplied

Representatives and key decision makers from 10 Commonwealth and State Departments and Central Coast Council joined Central Coast Aboriginal organisations, youth and community members at an historic gathering, hosted by Barang Regional Alliance on Thursday, October 25 and Friday, October 26.

The gathering was held at Wyong (and Kariong) as a two-day cultural immersion workshop. After submitting a ‘Statement of Claim’ to State and Commonwealth Governments in May, Barang Regional Alliance marked its collaboration with Government partners with the cultural immersion workshop, in a bid to increase understanding of Aboriginal ways of ‘knowing and doing’. As the representative body for the NSW Local Decision Making and Empowered Communities initiatives, Barang Regional Alliance represents the Central Coast’s Aboriginal community through advocacy and enacts regional reform for the empowerment of this community. Barang Regional Alliance Chairperson, Kate Kelleher, remarked on the significance of the gathering for the Coast’s Aboriginal population.

“This gathering represents an historic, signifi cant moment in our history in which our Government partners are culturally immersing themselves in Aboriginal ways of learning and doing,” Kelleher said. “This is the fi rst step in our working together to reform the way we do business, a way that puts the community’s voice, needs and solutions fi rst,” she said. “The deeper cultural understandings and bonds made will be taken forward into formal community led partnership table meetings to negotiate empowered youth focussed structural reform and re-investment opportunities, which will be formalised through a multi-party agreement.”

Initial feedback from participants revealed positive sentiments about the strength of the Central Coast Aboriginal Community, particularly the connection between the elders and emerging leaders, and their readiness to drive a new approach and partnerships to improve lives in the community. One participant said: “It was one of the most valuable community engagement exercises I’ve been part of and I learned so much. “I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together.” Further comments revealed that the ambition, energy and capability are obvious in the community with the voice of youth, in particular, providing a real opportunity for change and leading the way for the future.

The proposed formal negotiations between Barang and State and Commonwealth Government will see the bodies collaborate to enact Barang’s regional reform agenda and give the community a say in how their needs are funded and designed. To support this community-led reform, Barang Regional Alliance has announced its call to the Central Coast Aboriginal community to register Expressions of Interest to participate in Joint Decision Making (JDM) Community Panels that will be involved in these reforms.

Participation on these panels will provide a unique opportunity for the Aboriginal community to guide the improvement of services being delivered by identifying and rewarding programs and service providers which genuinely build long-term, sustainable community empowerment. “All Aboriginal community members currently living or working on the Central Coast, Darkinjung Country, who have an understanding of and connection to the local community and its needs have been invited to submit their expression of interest to participate in our Joint Decision Making Community Panels,” Kelleher concluded. Parties interested in learning more about the JDM Community Panels can visit the Barang website (barang.org.au/jdm-panel).

Source: Media release, Oct 30 Caitlin Vine, Brilliant Logic

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