SURF Coast Shire mayor Rose Hodge attended the Torquay Rotary meeting on Tuesday night to talk about the steps the council was taking to more fully involve the shire’s Indigenous people.
Cr Hodge said that she was enthused by how readily the younger generations in the shire were embracing the heritage of the traditional owners.
She noted their engagement in Smoking Ceremonies, which she said the council was looking to hold at local events more frequently.
“The kids absolutely love it. They did it at the Kite Festival and there would have been hundreds of kids lining up.”
She said this was an encouraging generational shift.
“When I went to school, we did Australian history, but it was really English history in Australia. I knew nothing about Indigenous history and I’m still learning. But for these kids, it’s part of their lives.”
She said part of ensuring Indigenous culture was part of younger people’s lives was giving places Aboriginal names, using the Kurrambee Myaring Kindergarten as an example of this.
“Now my generation say, ‘Torquay North Kinder’. But the kids know it (as Kurrambee Myaring). Many councils have dual naming. We don’t. We think you should get to know them.
“We’re really rapt the kids embrace this and they do it well, a lot better than we do.”
Cr Hodge gave particular mention to Wadawurrung woman Corrina Eccles, saying Ms Eccles had instigated much of the change the council had carried out.
“We work very, very closely with Corina; she’s an extremely passionate person, and because of her leadership we’re doing a lot more things with the Wadawurrung.”