The Danjoo Koorliny Walking Together Team has given a keynote presentation at the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Forum.
This year's forum had the theme Doyntj Doyntj - Come Together, and aimed to "assist local governments to develop strong, ongoing relationships with local Aboriginal communities that recognise our shared cultural heritage, create opportunities for Aboriginal empowerment, and celebrate successes."
The forum also featured addresses from the Minister for Indigenous Australians the Hon Ken Wyatt, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs the Hon Stephen Dawson, and the Minister for Local Government the Hon John Carey.
Dr Richard Walley delivered the Welcome to Country, which was followed by addresses from WALGA President Mayor Tracey Roberts, and Minister Dawson.
Dr Richard Walley, Prof Emer Colleen Hayward, Carol Innes and Ezra Jacobs-Smith then presented their Danjoo Koorliny Walking Together keynote.
Richard spoke about the role of Danjoo Koorliny, and the journey towards 2029.
"What we're doing is providing a platform for a conversation in a safe environment so that we can have the hard discussion about the youth, the Elderly, the plants, the animals - have that discussion in a place where we can bring governments, communities, the not-for-profits - so that we can be in this environment and say 'we have an issue'."
"When people ask us what do you want to see in 2029 - we want to see in 2029 what we want to see today. We want to see no youths in gaols today, not 80%, we want to see it today not wait to 2029," Richard said.
"Aboriginal culture is based on now, not forward planning. I don't care what you do with forward planning in any of your meetings - all your forward planning, your forward projections, are done in the moment. We only have two things - the past and now. And that's important in our culture, because what's been happening...is that the forward projections have forgot about the past and the now."
Richard also spoke about the need for systems thinking and systems change.
"Since colonisation there's been a system imposed on us as a people - not only us as Aboriginal people, but the whole system's been imposed on us as Australians, and us as Western Australians, and us in your local government areas - you have systems that are imposed. Those systems are based on other systems. And in your justice system that's been set up it's been failing because it's actually growing every year. In the health system that you've set up, it's failing...if you're building bigger hospitals and bigger gaols the system is failing...If you land in a place with no hospitals and no gaols, your first question should be, 'how did you do that'?"
Colleen also invited questions and participation from the audience.
"I often think that...we carry a lot of questions with us, as well as a lot of answers," Colleen said. "You don't often get the opportunity to ask the questions...and in this walking together, it's not just walking together, it's learning together, it's learning from each other together."
"Most people wouldn't have known what an LGA was. Now, of course, everybody knows what it is because it defines areas of lockdown to do with COVID. It would be really good...for LGA's in Western Australia to be known for not that this is a lockdown area, but that this is an area where opportunity is open and the relationships are good."
Colleen also spoke about 2029. "For the state - in 2029 - what do we want it to look like - and not just look like, but be like and feel like?"
Carol mentioned that we are also developing and designing processes and protocols as we move forward, including the Danjoo Koorliny Theory of Change.
"We all talk about the triple bottom line and how we evaluate and monitor many things," Carol said. "But for us, ours has been more than just the environment, the economic, and the social space. We're talking about our cultural space and also our spiritual space."
"Our spiritual and our well-being space is where we operate from and we're really proud of that.
"Our care for country - Richard couldn't stress more about how much we care for country, and Noel with all his wisdom and experience keeps talking about how we have to care for everything, and we are the carers of everything. We wouldn't have this beautiful country as it is and as it was in 1829 if our mob didn't care for it as we did.
"And family is all of us - not just us as Aboriginal people - it's you, every one of you, your children, your families - it's all a part of that."
Carol also spoke about the Danjoo Koorliny journey ahead to 2029. "We've never had an engagement like this. We haven't looked after Aboriginal people in the mix."
Ezra also spoke about the pathway of the future that we are collectively in the process of putting in place.
"We want ensure that we're not going backwards or we're not repeating any mistakes of the past," Ezra said. "By making sure that we're bringing the best of everybody's experience together we ensure that we stay on track."