Celebrating Greater Shepparton City Council’s Reconciliation Journey

Greater Shepparton City Council aim to build our organisation’s capacity to advance reconciliation and develop collaborative relationships with First Nations people and the broader community.

Council is achieving this through:

  • Reconciliation Action Plans;
  • Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group;
  • supporting of local advocacy groups such as Shepparton Region Reconciliation Group;
  • Memorandum of understand with Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Dana Djirrungana Dunguludja Yenbena-l’ - Aboriginal Street Art Project;
  • Algabonyah Employment Agreement;
  • Closing the Gap E-Learning Module;
  • different face-to-face cultural commentary trainings;
  • supporting of significant dates; and
  • developing a plan to make sure that the organisation is culturally safe

Greater Shepparton City Council will continue to support and improve on its reconciliation journey through walking side by side with our local First Nations Community for a better future for all.


Smoking and cleansing ceremony in Shepparton for local healing

A smoking and cleansing ceremony was held in Shepparton to publicly acknowledge the culturally significant burial site on which the council offices had been built, on the traditional lands of the Yorta Yorta people.

Smoking ceremonies are an ancient custom among many Aboriginal communities. Native plants are smouldered to produce smoke that has cleansing properties to ward off bad spirits. Some Aboriginal healing practitioners also use smoking ceremonies for healing, spiritual renewal and strength. The ceremonies are rituals of purification and unity and Aboriginal People with specialised cultural knowledge undertake them. Given the ceremony’s significance, it’s usually only performed at events that local Aboriginal communities regard as appropriate.

Yorta Yorta People had for years explained the historic and cultural significance of the Council site, and their distress and reluctance to enter the offices. The failure to address this issue had prevented the Yorta Yorta community from being fully integrated into their local Council’s daily work and decision making.

Representatives of the Yorta Yorta People led the cleansing and smoking ceremony and performed it in line with their traditional cultural practices. It began in the local Queens Gardens where the CEO welcomed everyone and acknowledged the Traditional Owners. The Mayor then made brief remarks before a Yorta Yorta Elder led those gathered in a minute’s silence.

A Yorta Yorta Elder unveiled a plaque to be placed on the wall at the entrance of the council offices, acknowledging the site’s historic and cultural significance. A representative of the Yorta Yorta Nation then began the smoking and cleansing ceremony, walking from the gardens to the Council offices.

The ceremony and laying of the plaque demonstrates Greater Shepparton City Council’s commitment to collaborate with Traditional Owners, acknowledge the truth of Australia’s history and build a shared future.