Statement from Hepburn Shire Council - Referendum

Published on 20 October 2023

Hepburn Shire Council logo

At its meeting of 17 October, Council unanimously resolved to reaffirm its unwavering commitment to reconciliation. Having previously adopted a positive position on the Voice referendum Council acknowledged that the failure to alter the Australian Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia is a lost opportunity to set things right.

Mayor, Cr Brian Hood said “The rejection of the opportunity to demonstrate inclusiveness, respect, justice and equity for all Australians and to address historical inequality will have far-reaching consequences for many in our community.  The referendum result must cause anguish and distress.”

In that context Council resolved:

1. When advancing from a Reflect Reconciliation Plan (RAP) to an Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan Council remains committed to:

(a) Further recognising, strengthening, protecting and promoting Dja Dja Wurrung culture and connection to Country, for the benefit of our local communities.

(b) Broadening opportunities for reconciliation in the Hepburn Shire.

(c) Refining Hepburn Shire Council business processes to create a culturally safe workplace.

(d) Ensuring Council officers have the knowledge and resources to meet Council’s obligations for maintaining and managing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage locally.

“As Mayor it is my privilege to chair Council’s Reconciliation Advisory Committee. My message to Dja Dja Wurrung people and everyone else in the Shire is that reconciliation is not dead…at least not in Hepburn Shire,” said Cr Hood.

Council was also mindful that events overseas, in the Middle East and Ukraine, create the risk of significant adverse effects on the mental health and general wellbeing of our people, especially through intensive media coverage.

In that context Council resolved:

To reaffirm its commitment to implementing policies, strategies and programs founded in fairness, inclusion, respect, diversity, equity and prevention of violence.

And to condemn the use of violence or other forms of offensive behaviour or language, particularly when it is directed towards people such as LGBTQIA+ or cultural or religious groups or individuals.