Federal Minister for Local Government Simon Crean today announced East Arnhem Shire Council as the winner of the 2012 National Awards for Local Government - Promoting Reconciliation category (Small Council).
The winning project titled 'Many Voices, One Direction', saw East Arnhem Shire Council in collaboration with Community Advisory Boards, Mala Leaders, Staff and Council Members develop and implement the Northern Territory's first standalone Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in October 2011.
East Arnhem Shire Council President, Banambi Wunungmurra, said "The Many Voices, One Direction project symbolises the Council's commitment to Reconciliation, in a spirit of goodwill in which mutual respect, tolerance, empathy and equality are the fundamental elements."
"Our Reconciliation Action Plan is not about closing the gap, it's about opening doors"
"While we are very pleased to be recognised as a winner in the National Local Government Awards; we are most proudest that this project will impact all people moving towards reconciliation in East Arnhemland."
Reconciliation Australia CEO Leah Armstrong said the awards are a great way of recognising the important work that happens in regional areas.
“The advancement of reconciliation in this country relies on the work done by local organisations and councils,” she said.
“We know there are a lot of small grassroots and community based organisations doing some fantastic work to create better relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians—so it’s great to see them being recognised.”
The promoting reconciliation category in the National Awards for Local Government acknowledges initiatives that strengthen reconciliation through mutual recognition, respect and participation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
“The East Arnhem Shire Council is leading the way in local government leadership by implanting reforms and improving accountability to its communities,” Ms Armstrong said.
East Arnhem Shire Council is among 27 other category winners that were judged by independent judging panels and include 11 winners from small councils with fewer than 15,000 rateable properties.
"I congratulate each of this year's category winners on their success," Mr Crean said.
"The National Awards for Local Government are designed to recognise and reward local councils for their important work in supporting their local communities.
"The National Awards are an important plank of the partnership with local government and recognise the critical role of local governments in making our communities more productive, liveable and sustainable.
"Local government helps to underpin location-based solutions tailored to the specific needs and strengths of particular regions.
"It is important for us as a nation to tap into local input to develop creative solutions to address emerging social, economic and environmental issues.
"The National Awards for Local Government recognise some of the innovative ways in which councils are approaching the issues facing local government. It encourages them to continue to work together and share good practice to improve their capacity to find unique local solutions for common problems."
The category winners announced today will now be considered for the overall 2012 National Award for Excellence in Local Government.
In coming weeks an independent panel will again assess the category winners and determine which will receive a 2012 Award for Excellence. which will be announced at a special presentation in late June.