Byron Council will aim to give local First Nations people a role in its decision-making process by September 2024, echoing the newly-elected federal government’s pledge to honour the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
At last week’s meeting, councillors voted unanimously in favour of a motion to create a ‘First Nations Voice to Council’.
‘The new federal government has committed to supporting and implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart,’ said Independent councillor, Mark Swivel, who moved the motion last Thursday. ‘This creates momentum for constructive change embedded in our constitution and a national project of regeneration and healing’.
‘Local councils with their immediate community engagement and responsibility for land use are uniquely well-positioned to facilitate the better integration of Indigenous communities into our processes of government.’
Exactly how the local Indigenous community would be involved in Council decision-making has not been decided.
However, the Council has endorsed an advisory body model, with the structure, terms of reference and membership to be determined through consultation with local Indigenous community stakeholders. One possible role the advisory body could undertake is reviewing all Council policies and decisions for their impact on the local Indigenous community.
Councillors would then be required to consider the recommendations made by the Voice to Council and respond to questions raised.
Last week’s motion draws directly from a resolution that Byron Council successfully moved at the recent Local Government NSW Special Conference.
This resolution, known as ‘resolution 39’, calls on councils to develop a kit in partnership with traditional custodians so public forums can be held to inform the public about the Uluru Statement from the Heart.