Taronga today launched its Reconciliation Action Plan with a special smoking ceremony and bush lunch at Taronga’s Wollemi Lawns.
Taronga Director, Cameron Kerr, said: “Based on our broad range of Aboriginal programs from education to training, we very pleased to have our own Reconciliation Action Plan in place.
“Today’s launch has been five months in the making but is based on years of effort to acknowledge the indigenous inhabitants and the contribution they made in developing a strong connection and respect for Australian animals, the principles of sustainability and conservation. Since we announced its commencement in November last year, there’s been great work from the team here at Taronga including indigenous and non-indigenous staff and external participants.”
Mr Kerr said he had been very proud at the commissioning of the Zoo’s historic Main Entrance in October last year had featured not only indigenous art works but the official ceremony began with a traditional smoking ceremony. This shared sense of cultural purpose was given broad media coverage across media platforms including evening television news bulletins.
Today’s launch also included a tour of the Platypus Pools exhibit featuring Australian wildlife and Aboriginal artworks created around the Wollemi Pine, the tree thought to be extinct until it was re-discovered in the Wollemi National Park, north-west of Sydney.”
Mr Kerr said: “The creation of the exhibit was one of our early successes in bring indigenous culture to the forefront of our animal presentations, with hand print art featured prominently along the path through the exhibit. We worked work Aboriginal groups which had ties to the Wollemi area to achieve this and the exhibit was also where Taronga became only the second zoo in Australia to breed the Platypus.”
Speakers included Nardi Simpson who has led the operation and establishment of the Burbangana and Walanmarra Indigenous Awareness programs with the NSW Department of Human Services in which young Aboriginal people are referred to Taronga from Community Services to join the program for 12 weeks.
Burbangana is a Dharug word in the Sydney language meaning “take my hand and help me up” and aims to reawaken the spirit of belonging in its young people, reconnecting and strengthening them with their Aboriginal culture.
What is the Reconciliation Action Plan?
Taronga has extended its commitment to Indigenous Australians by developing a Reconciliation
The RAP is a very practical way to consolidate our vision: Securing a shared future for wildlife and people, and it sets bold goals for us to work towards in the coming years as we continue to embrace, respect, provide opportunities and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures across everything we do.
The RAP, launched in Sydney on May 23 and in Dubbo on June 1, coinciding with National Reconciliation Week, marks an exciting phase in the relationships between Taronga and it's local Indigenous communities. We look forward to walking into the future together, finding ways to live more sustainably and conserve wildlife in Australia and overseas.