Byron Shire’s mayor and its GM Graeme Faulkner yesterday marked the beginning of National Reconciliation Week by jointly signing a formal commitment with the Bundjalung of Byron Bay Aboriginal – Arakwal People, who were represented by Arakwal elder Aunty Dulcie Nichols.
The commitment is designed to strengthen the working relationship between Byron Shire Council (BSC) and the Bundjalung of Byron Bay Aboriginal – Arakwal People.
In 1998, BSC became the first local government in New South Wales to establish a formal relationship with its native title claimants.
Mayor Jan Barham said she was thrilled to be part of the commitment’s signing.
‘This is a proud day,’ she said.
‘It is fantastic this is happening in Reconciliation Week. We all experience Aboriginal culture in the Byron Shire. We respect and honour the Arakwal people. And this commitment makes it clear we are committed to the Arakwal people forever.’
Mayor Barham cited the new Byron Bay Library, currently under construction on the corner of Lawson and Middleton streets in Byron Bay, as an example of how the partnership between Council and the Arakwal people had provided benefits for the wider Byron Shire community.
‘The Arakwal people provided us with the land for a library site. And that building will soon hold stories about the past, present and future of the Arakwal people and their contribution to the shire’s culture in a dedicated Arakwal room,’ she said.
The statement of commitment notes that Council advocates the cultural and economic development of the Byron Bay Aboriginal – Arakwal People, the preservation and expression of their cultural identity, and the importance of Council and the Arakwal people partnering together to ensure an ecologically sustainable Byron Shire community.