This year’s National Reconciliation Week theme was taken to heart by thousands of students and community members who took part in the Bellambi Community Walk for Reconciliation.
Even Keira MP Ryan Park joined the annual event on Friday.
He joined primary and high school students from 45 public and private schools along with their parents, Aboriginal Elders and community representatives walk from Holy Spirit College to Bellambi Public School.
Aboriginal elders Uncle Richard Archibald and Aunty Sharralyn Robinson again led the annual walk held to coincide with National Reconciliation Week (May 27 – June 3).
Bellambi Public School principal Michelle Sotiros said the week invites communities from all backgrounds to contribute to the national movement towards a unified future.
Ms Sotiros said the school takes the lead to embed Aboriginal culture in education.
“Reconciliation isn’t a single moment or place in time,” she said. “It’s lots of small consistent steps and many big strides.
“Our community will walk together as one to make Reconciliation a part of our everyday life.”
Illawarra Shoalhaven Social Investments (ISSI) stakeholders have met in Wollongong to sign a symbolic code of conduct.
The ground-breaking effort to promote equity in the region has been run from Our Place Bellambi for two years to try and change the way disadvantage and inequity is addressed. ISSI is a multi-sector body formed to break down barriers to address disadvantage by making community aspirations and needs a core priority. The initiative is coordinated and hosted by the Australian Social Investment Trust. ASIT executive chair Natasha Scully said the sector-neutral organisation was committed to bridging gaps and bringing together people from across the community to solve complex social issues. “We are committed to long-term, intergenerational positive change in these communities and the empowerment of people within them to reach their potential”.
Government, non-government and community based organisations involved include Department of Family and Community Services Illawarra Shoalhaven District, Department of Education, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, Department of Premier and Cabinet, NSW Police, Wollongong City Council, University of Wollongong, Aboriginal Affairs NSW and Illawarra Forum.
Within the next two years ISSIT will actively work with three new communities in the region.
Illawarra Forum chief executive Nicky Sloan said the community services industry in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven had a long history of working collaboratively to find outcomes to complex issues and the Illawarra Forum was pleased to be working with key government and community representatives as part of a new collective approach.
Wollongong Local Area Command commander Joseph Cassar described the initiative as an excellent opportunity to collectively work together to provide a safer and self-sufficient environment for ‘at risk’ communities.
“I see our local Police, as playing a pivotal role in providing advice and support to these communities on crime prevention and safety issues, whether it be on a personal basis or from a great community perspective,” he said.