More than 200 people united and gathered in anticipation at Twin Waters this week (22 March) for the region’s first ever First Nations Self-Determination, Representation and Wellbeing Forum.
Held in partnership with Sunshine Coast Council, the Healing Foundation and PHN, the event was a key opportunity to forward plan with First Nations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) people while also recognising the needs and trauma experienced by past generations.
Sunshine Coast Council Senior First Nations Advisor Stephen Mam said he was pleased to see such a strong turnout.
“The forum was all about the importance of self-determination and representation in wellbeing. Without those two we can’t have wellbeing,” Mr Mam said.
“It’s important for the First Nations community to be active contributors in key decision-making processes.
“Last week we saw our national Close the Gap Day, which highlighted the differences between the First Nations and wider community.
“Until our old people are able to teach our young people, and our young people are able to learn from our old people, then equality has not been achieved.”
The Healing Foundation Deputy CEO Donna Burns said it was a privilege to partner with Sunshine Coast Council to deliver such an important event.
“We focus around the voices of The Stolen Generation, survivors and their descendants,” Ms Burns said.
“What we need to do is elevate the voices. We know that communities and individuals within those communities have the solutions and we know a major part of that is putting culture at the centre.
“I’d really like to see this not be put on the community to change but broader Australia to step up, become trauma aware and healing informed.”
Tribal Elder Tais K’Reala Randanpi said representation at the forum by many different tribes was equally essential.
“It’s more important that the First Nation(s) people step up and do things the way they want to do,” Mr K’Reala Randanpi said.
The forum included a traditional welcome, cultural sessions and presentations by the Statement from the Heart Working Group, International Peoples Organisation and USC plus Relationships Australia’s Debra Bennet.
Sunshine Coast Council this week (25 March) unanimously endorsed its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan.
For more information visit https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Living-and-Community/Community-Support/First-Nations-Sunshine-Coast.