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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities

Cessnock City Council acknowledges that within its local government area boundaries are the Traditional Lands of the Wonnarua people, the Awabakal people and the Darkinjung people. We acknowledge these Aboriginal peoples as the traditional custodians of the land on which our offices and operations are located, and pay our respects to Elders past and present.  We also acknowledge all other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who now live within the Cessnock Local Government Area.   


  • Cessnock City Council Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee

  • Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan

  • Acknowledgement and Welcome to Country

  • NAIDOC Week 

  • National Reconciliation Week 27 May - 3 June 

CESSNOCK CITY COUNCIL ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER COMMITTEE 

NOMINATIONS FOR COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVES ARE NOW CLOSED 

Draft Terms of Reference Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee 2017. 

Nomination Form Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee. 

If you require further information regarding the Committee please contact Council’s Acting Community and Cultural Engagement Manager, Ms Natalie Drage on 4993 4118.

Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan

With encouragement and support from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee, Council has developed it's first Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), This one year plan was endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, and adopted by Council on the 9 December 2015.  The plan provides Council with a framework and vision for reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.  It lists 13 actions to be completed during 2016, and is structured around four themes; Relationships, Respect, Opportunities and Tracking progress.

Some of the key achievements of the Reflect RAP include:

  • Receipt of an Elsa Dixon School based scholarship;
  • Development of a staff cultural awareness plan;
  • A Council resolution to install two additional flag poles in the Council Administration Building, allowing Council to fly the Torres Strait Islander flag along side the National and Aboriginal flags;
  • Hosting an Elders morning tea to recognise National Reconciliation Week;  and
  • Hosting a Community Forum to bring together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, agencies, elders, and student representatives to inform the development of Councils next RAP.

Reflect RAP Progress Report January 2017.

With this Plan soon coming to an end, Council is now beginning to plan for its next Reconciliation Action Plan, the Innovate RAP.  

Acknowledgement and Welcome to Country

A Welcome or Acknowledgement protocol is a traditional custom of great significance to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Incorporating a Welcome or Acknowledgement into events, official meetings, functions and other special occasions is a mark of respect that recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Australians and custodians of their land. It promotes an awareness of the past and an ongoing connection to place and Country.

Welcome to Country

A Welcome to Country is where an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island traditional owner, custodian or Elder welcomes people to their Land.  

Protocols for welcoming visitors to Country have been part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures for thousands of years.  The Welcome to Country always occurs at the opening of an event and is usually the first item on the program.  The Welcome can be done through a speech, song, dance ceremony or combination of these.     

Acknowledgement of Country  

Everybody is able to deliver an Acknowledgement of Country.  

An Acknowledgement of Country is a way of showing respect and awareness of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditional custodians of the land on which a meeting or event is being held, and of recognising the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to their Country.   

Example of an Acknowledgement of Country

There are no set protocols or wording for an Acknowledgement of Country, however a statement may often take the following form.

"I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet today, the _______ people (if known) and pay my respects to Elders past, present and future. I would also like to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who now reside in this area, and who are present here today."

NAIDOC Week

National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week occurs between the first and second Sunday in July each year to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is not only celebrated in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life.

NAIDOC Week is a great opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to join together and recognise the valuable and continuing contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians make to this country, helping to promote understanding, acceptance and reconciliation.  

The Cessnock lga NAIDOC program has been growing each year, with more people getting involved and more organization's participating in events.    

Each year council produces a Calendar of Events for NAIDOC week.  Everyone is invited to participate!

National Reconciliation Week 27 May - 3 June 

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) celebrates the rich culture and history of the first Australians. It is the ideal time for everyone to join the reconciliation conversation and to think about how we can help turn around the disadvantage experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NRW aims to build respectful relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. and is framed by two key events in Australia’s history:

27 May 1967 - The date of the referendum where Australians voted to remove clauses in the Australian Constitution that discriminated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

3 June 1992 - The date of the historic Mabo decision in which the High Court of Australia recognised Native Title, the recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights over their lands has survived British colonisation. This historic decision rejected the concept of ‘Terra Nullius’, which claimed Australia was a land belonging to no-one prior to British occupation.