Item 11.2 - Attachment 1

Minutes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee Meeting 20 April 2010








Bruce Gale in the Chair, Donna-Lee Astill, Bruce Astill, Phil Bradley, Doug Desjardines, Marcia Donovan, Lyn Leerson, Councillor Chiang Lim, Linda McDonald, Annie Nielsen, Jay Palmer, Gilson Saunders, John Robertson, Anne Stonham and Greg Stonham.





Robin Bradfield – Convenor, Grant Davies – Minute Clerk, Ian Fitzgerald (Manager Human Resources) and John McInerney (Service Manager – Community Capacity Building)






Gilson Saunders made a Welcome to Country, recognising that the land upon which the meeting was being held is Dharug and paying respect to Elders past and present.




Ian Fitzgerald, Manager Human Resources, introduced himself to the Committee as did John McInerney, Service Manager – Community Capacity Building. Mr Fitzgerald provided advice on his background and outlined his commitment to cultural awareness training.


Human Resource Issues

Mr Fitzgerald advised that he was in attendance at tonight’s meeting at the invitation of the Committee to discuss the following issues:-

1.   The Local Government target for Aboriginal employment;

2.   Staff participation in the Advisory Committee; and

3.   Staff cultural awareness training.


Target for Aboriginal Employment

Mr Fitzgerald advised that there was a 3% national and 2.6% NSW target for Aboriginal employment, however, this target was not mandatory for local government. He added that there were a number of options available to Council to increase opportunities for Aboriginal persons including the advertising of job vacancies with agencies with an Aboriginal specialisation.


Linda McDonald commented that the Elsa Dickson Programme may be of assistance and was of the opinion that the Federal Government had legislated the Aboriginal employment target through this programme.


Councillor Lim noted that the Elsa Dickson Programme had 5 different categories, not all of which contained permanent positions.


Mr Bradley advised that the Committee would like to be informed how Council was performing against this guideline. Mr Robertson added that whether the percentage was mandatory was not significant as Council should be aiming higher in any event. He further expressed his frustration at the Committee being unable to obtain EEO figures from Council and questioned whether Council was meeting its obligations in this regard.


Mrs Stonham spoke passionately in relation to the need for 2.6% of positions within Council needing to be reserved for Aboriginal employment.


Councillor Lim cautioned that any resolution by the Committee to reserve 2.6% of positions at Council for Aboriginal persons could be misinterpreted or ignored.


Mr Fitzgerald indicated that the Council should not be limited by any target and suggested that the issue could be dealt with via an Aboriginal Employment Strategy.


The apparent problem of retention and subsequent replacement of Aboriginal workers was also discussed together with the possible introduction of mentor/apprenticeship schemes. Mr Gale particularly expressed concern that the Committee were never advised when and why staff had left Council’s employ.


Staff Participation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committees

In relation to ensuring attendance by relevant staff at Committee Meetings, Mr Fitzgerald suggested that invitations and articles could be included in Council newsletters.


Mr Gale noted that the requirement for the Aboriginal Community Worker to attend Committee meetings had been deleted from the relevant job description.


Staff Cultural Awareness Training

Mr Fitzgerald advised that such training could be provided and suggested the possible introduction of a pilot programme.


Mr Bradley noted that the TAFE ran a satisfactory, though basic, awareness course.


Mr Robertson expressed concern that a consultant had previously been engaged in relation to this issue without reference to the Committee for advice as to what type of training needed to be provided and on the areas that needed addressing. He noted that there appeared to be a communication breakdown between Council and the Committee and stressed that culturally sensitive issues should be referred to the Committee.


Ms Stonham noted that any training would be beneficial for Committee members as well as staff.


Aboriginal Employment Strategy


Mr Gale noted Mr Fitzgerald’s comments in relation to the creation of an Aboriginal Employment Strategy and advised that Ms Pinckham had previously undertaken the strategy.


Mr Fitzgerald advised that he would be delivering a Human Resources Strategic Plan which would include a workforce plan and the issue of Aboriginal Employment would be addressed in this document.


Mr Robertson commented that there was no need to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and suggested that the Committee be provided with advice on works previously undertaken for discussion purposes.


Mr Desjardines requested that David Gray from the NSW Fire Brigades also be approached to provide information or a presentation on Aboriginal Employment.


The Committee thanked Mr Fitzgerald for his attendance.





An apology was received and accepted for the absence of Phil Russo and Doug Wilson.




There were no conflicts of interest at this meeting.



5     LGAN 2010 PLANNING – Theme – Supporting Young Leaders


Mr McInerney advised that Council Staff had met with LGAN Executives to discuss the issues raised at the previous Committee Meeting.


The LGAN Committee was pleased with the information provided and stressed that “quality rather than quantity” was desired at the conference and asked that focus be placed on those workshops and services most desired.


Accordingly, invitation letters had been drafted to VIPs, presenters and sponsors and would be forwarded in the near future.


In relation to site visits, the Executive had suggested that these occur on the Tuesday afternoon with Wednesday and Thursday to be left for the actual conference. The Chairman, Mr Towney, had also requested that site inspections be limited to Lake Parramatta and the Parramatta Girls Training School with Prospect Hill being deleted as the site is not based in Parramatta.


RECOMMENDATION         (McDonald/Robertson)


Bearing in mind the significance and respect held for the Prospect Hill site and its association with Pemulwuy, that this site be retained for a site visit.


Mr McInerney then asked for the Committee’s preference to carry out the Welcome to Country and to open the Conference.


The Committee agreed that Aunty Edna carry out the Welcome to Country (or provide an appropriate nominee) with Uncle Wes to carry out the Smoking Ceremony.


The Committee also asked that attendance invitations be extended to Brian from Rotary and Marie Wilson from the Oral Health Centre.


Mr McInerney advised that he would be meeting with Epic on Thursday, 22 April 2010 to provide an update and to further discuss scheduling issues.


Councillor Lim noted that the General Manager for the Western Sydney Region, HousingNSW, had expressed an interest in being involved with both NAIDOC and the conference.





A copy of the minutes of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee Meeting held on 23 March 2010 had previously been forwarded to each member.


RECOMMENDATION         (Bradley/McDonald)


That the minutes of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee Meeting held on 23 March 2010 be taken as a true record of the meeting subject to the following alterations:-

1.         Mr John Robertson had submitted an apology for his non attendance at this meeting.

2.         The words ‘asked whether’ are duplicated on page 4, second last paragraph.

3.         The word ‘sit it on’ on page 5 under the heading Aboriginal Employment Strategy should read ‘sit in on’.





Mr McInerney advised that no response had been received from RailCorp as yet. He added that a recommendation had been placed on the agenda for the Council Meeting to be held on 27 April 2010 requesting that a letter be forwarded to the Minister for Transport seeking support for the advertising of NAIDOC Week. Subject to adoption by Council of the recommendation, the letter would be forwarded shortly thereafter.


Aboriginal Employment Strategy

Linda McDonald noted Councillors Lim’s request at the previous meeting for the Committee to prepare a ‘wish list’ of items the Committee wished to achieve.


Ms McDonald tabled previous minutes of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee which provided details on this issue.


Mr Robertson noted that Committee members had also presented to the Council at the Crowne Plaza providing similar advice.


Councillor Lim noted that he was just seeking a simple dot point list of items the Committee wished to achieve.


Greek Flag Raising Ceremony

Mr Gale advised that the Aboriginal Flag had not been flown at the recent Greek Flag Raising Ceremony and he had subsequently been advised that it will not be flown for any future events with the exception of NAIDOC Week.


Councillor Lim advised that in his experience, the Aboriginal Flag had not been raised at ceremonies for other cultures.


Mr Gale was of the opinion that the Aboriginal Flag had been flown at many similar ceremonies over the past 3 years.


Domestic Violence Against Kids Campaign

Mr Bradfield advised that the Eels were unaware of the campaign when contacted by Council recently.


Mr McInerney noted that Council would be engaging with the Eels in relation to LGAN, NAIDOC and Closing the Gap and accordingly, the matter would be raised at that time.


Mr Saunders advised that he had held extensive conversations with an Eels representative on this issue and the only reason the campaign had not proceeded previously was due to the overseas commitments of certain players. He added that he would pursue the matter.



Parramatta Correctional Centre

Mr McInerney advised that correspondence had now been received from the General Manager of the Parramatta Correctional Centre and further, that letters had been signed and forwarded to WorkCover as requested.


Executive Committee

The issue of membership of the Executive Committee had been deferred pending the attendance of both the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee.


Mr Robertson provided a background on this issue and added that he had spoken at a recent Council Meeting and outlined the sections he would like to see reinstated into the Terms of Reference for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee.


The Committee discussed the intent of the recent resolution by Council pertaining to this issue and reiterated its desire to see the Executive Team reinstated.


RECOMMENDATION         (Desjardines/Robertson)


That the following addition to the Terms of Reference for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee relating to the Executive Committee, as proposed by Mr Robertson at the Council Meeting held on 9 November 2009 , be adopted:-


7. Chairperson/Deputy Chairperson and Executive Committee


In addition to Core Terms of Reference Clause 6, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee has adopted additional structural and procedural components in an attempt to ensure that the business of the Advisory Committee is managed in a culturally sensitive way.

The Executive Committee mechanism allows for issues identified as culturally sensitive to be discussed and resolved according to cultural practice i.e. with only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people present at the time of discussion.


7.1    The Advisory Committee will vote annually to determine its Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and Executive Committee.


7.2    The Executive Committee will consist of seven (7) Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander members elected from the Committee. The Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson will be elected from the members of the Executive.


7.3    The Chairperson will chair the entire meeting to ensure consistency.


7.4    If the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson are absent from the meeting the Committee will nominate a Chairperson for the meeting.


7.5    Duties of the Chairperson or Deputy are to:

1       Chair meetings according to Council’s Code of Conduct, the Terms of Reference and Guidelines and meeting agenda


2       Liaise with the Council Officer Convening the Committee to determine the Agenda for each meeting


3       Facilitate the discussion of items on the agenda in a timely manner


4       Facilitate the moving of recommendations and voting by Committee members


5       Ensure all committee members have the opportunity to participate


7.6    The role of the Executive Committee is to discuss sensitive issues relating to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders when the Advisory Committee feels that it is inappropriate for a particular matter to be discussed and voted on by the Committee as a whole.


7.7    If at least five (5) members of the Advisory Committee believe a matter should be dealt with by the Executive, it will be referred to the Executive for decision.


7.8    When the Executive are to discuss a sensitive issue during the course of a normal meeting, non-executive members will be required to leave the room.


7.9    All decisions of the Executive arising from Sub-clauses 7.7 and 7.8 will be relayed to the Advisory Committee or the individual/s concerned as appropriate.


7.10 Where the behaviour of any committee member is of concern, the matter will be referred to the Executive in the first instance. If the matter cannot be satisfactorily resolved by the Executive, or if they consider it is sufficiently serious, the matter will be referred to the Chief Executive Officer of Council for appropriate action.



Names of the Executive Committee will be forthcoming subject to the adoption of the above clause.


8.         NAIDOC Planning Committee


Mr Gale noted that the NAIDOC Sub Committee had met on Tuesday 13 April 2010 and provided details on the issues discussed. A copy of the minutes taken at that meeting will be circulated to members under separate cover.


Mr Geoff Miller will advise members of the Sub Committee’s next meeting date, such date likely to be on the Tuesday preceding the next meeting of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee.


9.         General Business and Information Sharing


The Aged Rights Service (TARS)

Mr Saunders tabled a brochure for TARS – a specialist community legal centre providing advocacy in NSW for the residents of Commonwealth subsidised nursing homes and hostels and recipients of community aged care packages.


Community Grant


Ms Neilson advised that Reconciliation of Western Sydney had applied for community grant funding in the amount of $3100 on behalf of Ermington West Public School for the purchase of a movie camera.


Ms Leerson noted that the proposal related to a longer term mural project. Ms McDonald noted that she had acted as an education consultant in relation to this project.


Acknowledgement to Country at The Hills Shire Meetings

Ms Leerson noted that The Hills Shire Council had voted to carry out the Acknowledgement to Country at its Council Meetings. Apparently a notice of rescission had been lodged in an attempt to overturn this decision.


Channel 7 Site at Mobbs Lane, Epping

Mr Wilson asked that Mr Gale prepare another letter in association with the Channel 7 site at Mobbs Lane.


Aboriginal Artefacts at Meriton Site

Mr Bradley noted that some 20,000 Aboriginal artefacts had been found at the Meriton Apartments site in George Street, Parramatta which revealed evidence of occupation dating back 30,000 years. He suggested that this fact was worthy of comment in the upcoming LGAN Conference.


Reconciliation Walk and Conference

Mr Bradley advised that a reconciliation walk and concert would be held on Saturday 22 May 2010 at 12 noon at the Mt Druitt Town Square organised by Mt Druitt and District Reconciliation Group.


Success Stories in Indigenous Health

Mr Bradley donated a book entitled ‘Success Stories in Indigenous Health’ for the Parramatta Library and commended the book to all.


Communication between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee and Council

Councillor Lim questioned whether the minutes of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee were unwittingly altered by staff to convey a different message to Council and suggested that it may be beneficial for the minutes to adopted by the Advisory Committee prior to being forwarded to Council.


Mr Robertson advised that the issue was not with the minutes and added that they were not endorsed minutes until adopted by the Committee in any event. He suggested, however, that the covering report may not reflect the issues important to the Committee.


Councillor Lim suggested that he could approach the CEO with a view to the endorsing report being signed off by the Committee.


Mr Robertson indicated such action could result in delays due to the timing of Council and Committee meetings.


Mr McInerney added that the covering report was not an interpretation of what happened at meetings but rather a simple summary of what was discussed.


Mr Robertson further added that there appeared to be a breakdown between the minutes being adopted and action being taken on the resolutions. He referred to previous requests for EEO statistics and cross cultural training which seem to have been ignored.


Great North Walk

Ms Neilson advised that approval had been given to extend the Great North Walk to include Parramatta. A public relations exercise would be held on Saturday 24 April 2010 at 2pm at Parramatta Park with local members, the Catchment Management and an indigenous representative in attendance.


Photographs for Inclusion in NAIDOC Flyers

Ms McDonald tabled photographs of Aboriginal dancers for use in NAIDOC flyers and requested that they be provided to Geoff Miller.


Lake Parramatta

John McInerney requested that the issue of Lake Parramatta be placed on next month’s agenda for discussion.


Flying of Aboriginal Flag Upside Down

Mr Desjardines expressed his disappointment at the Aboriginal Flag having been flown upside at a recent Torch Relay function.



The meeting terminated at 8.35 pm.