First Nations voice

An embedded First Nations voice

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Woman reading a book by the water
Wollongong Rock Pools, Illawarra-Shoalhaven City
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A 20-year vision: More than 65,000 years of continuous culture is central to our shared identity and sets us apart from anywhere else in the world, and the wisdom and aspirations of First Nations peoples are recognised and embedded in planning for our future.

The lands of the six cities are located on the ancestral and unceded homelands of the Awabakal, Bediagal, Birrabirrigal, Borogegal, Burramattagal, Darkinjung, Darramurragal, Dharawal, Dharug, Gadigal, Gahbrogal, Gamaragal, Garigal and Gayamaygal, Gundungarra, Gweagal, Wallumedegal, Wandi Wandian, Wangal, Wategoro, Weymaly, Wodi Wodi, Wonnarua, Worimi and Yuin peoples.

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First Nation man drawing in the sand

First Nations peoples’ perspectives shaping the region

The Commission will improve the cultural safety and relevance of the strategic planning process through mechanisms that recognise the aspirations, cultures and languages of the peoples who have been the custodians of the various lands across the Six Cities Region for more than 65,000 years. By listening to and establishing partnerships with representatives of First Nations communities, working with First Nations peoples, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, traditional custodians, and Local Aboriginal Land Councils, the Commission will ensure First Nations perspectives inform and influence all its planning and decision-making processes.

The voices and perspectives of the traditional custodians must guide and shape our future.
Natalie Walker - Social Commissioner

The move towards active recognition of First Nations peoples’ ongoing custodianship of the land is a fundamental shift in NSW’s strategic planning. Just as the Uluru Statement from the Heart calls for the establishment of a First Nations voice in the Australian Constitution, the Commission will create the space and mechanisms for First Nations peoples' voice to be embedded into the strategic planning of the Six Cities Region.

Establishing a First Nations Advisory Panel

As a first step the Commission will establish a First Nations Advisory Panel to advise on regional strategic planning. The Panel will operate as a voice to the Commission and guide implementation of the Region and City Plans.

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 Yarning Circle
Campbelltown 2020 Yarning Circle. Credit: Campbelltown City Council
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 Yarning Circle
Campbelltown 2020 Yarning Circle. Credit: Campbelltown City Council

Aligning with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap

The Commission’s engagement of First Nations peoples in strategic planning will link to the NSW Government’s Implementation Plan for the National Agreement on Closing the Gap by:

  • creating new partnership frameworks
  • amplifying First Nations perspectives in NSW Government decision making 
  • increasing First Nations representation on decision making and advisory bodies
  • seeking feedback on the cultural safety and appropriateness of our engagement and planning work to understand where we can improve
  • assessing how our programs and policies will impact First Nations communities.
Progressing this Region Shaper

1.1. The Region Plan and City Plans will identify and incorporate the aspirations of First Nations peoples including:

a. social aspirations, including social cohesion and social infrastructure

b. wellbeing aspirations, including health and healing

c. environmental aspirations, including land management, climate resilience, biodiversity management

d. land aspirations, including land management, land ownership and return of land, and plans for existing land holdings

e. economic aspirations, including education, training, jobs, entrepreneurship and investment

f. cultural aspirations, including cultural heritage, language revitalisation, significant and sacred site management and protection, and place naming

g. planning aspirations, including ensuring the planning system is designed to enable the achievement of First Nations aspirations.

In developing the Region Plan and City Plans, the Commission will coordinate engagement with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, traditional custodians, Local Aboriginal Land Councils, the Federal Government and other relevant NSW agencies, including Department of Premier and Cabinet (Aboriginal Affairs NSW), Regional NSW, Crown Lands and Department of Planning and Environment.

Greater Cities Commission correction and apology: Reference to Guringai people in Six Cities Region Discussion Paper

The Greater Cities Commission apologises for the incorrect reference to Guringai people in its description of First Nations groups within the Eastern Harbour City in the recently released Six Cities Region Discussion Paper.

We sincerely apologise for the unintended error in the Discussion Paper, and any hurt and offense this has caused.

We have investigated the process, approach and all our research in compiling the Six Cities Discussion Paper. The information available online reflects the complexity and deep history in both the original history of the naming, and 21st century naming.  To ensure accuracy and cultural appropriateness, the Discussion Paper was circulated as a draft to key NSW Government agencies for comment or corrections prior to publication.

We have removed Guringai references from the digital version of the Discussion Paper and we will propose to Aboriginal Affairs NSW and Local Aboriginal Land Councils that a detailed review of the naming of the groups outlined in the Discussion Paper is undertaken.

We will continue to work with and engage First Nations people to achieve the six cities vision, including recognition and embedding First Nations voices in strategic planning.

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Kids learning to recognise shells with First Nations people
Kurnell. Credit: Sutherland Shire Council