Acknowledgement of Country
In 2017, Girl Guides Victoria worked directly with Reconciliation Australia to develop their first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) as part of the stance to be an inclusive organisation. Several members of the RAP Working Group are Indigenous Girl Guide volunteers.
The Reconciliation Action Plan formalises the commitment to reconciliation and provides practical actions to contribute to reconciliation and foster inclusivity throughout the organisation.
The aim is :
for everyone in the community to feel seen, celebrated, and treated with the utmost respect. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recognition and reconciliation is a vital part of our inclusivity.
Statement of Intent
Reconciliation Australia reviewed and accepted the Statement of Intent compiled by the RAP Working Group. Our Statement of Intent informs of the ways we implement our Reconciliation Action Plan.
Our Statement of Intent
- Learn more of the history and celebrations of Indigenous significance
- Develop respectful cultural relationships within our organisation
- Be an inclusive organisation
- Support cohesion among our members
- Help Indigenous Leaders and girls to develop a greater sense of belonging at Girl Guides
- Support our wider membership to develop a sense of belonging to this Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land
- Celebrate our unique Australian inheritance
- Create an identity that is uniquely Australian
Our Statement of Intent will inform the ways we implement our Reconciliation Action Plan. In 2019, our RAP Working Group is exploring the practical actions that Girl Guides Victoria can take to support our Statement of Intent, and ensure a uniform approach to reconciliation throughout our organisation.
Implementing Our Statement of Intent
The RAP Working Group is exploring the best methods to implement the Statement of Intent to help our members to engage with our commitment to Indigenous culture and to encourage Indigenous girls and volunteers to become members of Girl Guides.
Some of the methods may include:
- Develop training to ensure a similar approach across the organisation
- Develop policy/protocols around Acknowledgement of Country
- Develop resources to support girls and volunteers to understand and implement the action plan
- Develop programs and activities for the Units
- Create pathways to membership for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and women
- Celebrate special times such as Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week
About the Artwork
Gwenda Freeman (Wanala) is a volunteer Leader in the Central Highlands Region and member of the RAP Working Group. Gwenda created the artwork to represent Victoria’s reconciliation journey.
Gwenda describes the artwork:
‘The blue ribbon represents a river (It’s symbolic, rather than putting all Victoria’s rivers into it), and the brown are mountain ranges. The background colours are just the different soils and grasses and trees making up Victoria. The circles and dots are the gatherings of all the Girl Guides and their Leaders and volunteers, in Units and Regions. The trefoil is our symbol and the campfire represents our activities.’
About the Artist – Gwenda Freeman
Gwenda is an Indigenous artist of Yorta Yorta descent, one of seven children, brought up in Clayton (a Melbourne suburb). She is a Girl Guide volunteer, an academic, and an advocate for Indigenous health and well-being. Her Guide name is Wanya, which means ‘sister’ in Yorta Yorta.
She loves to paint in earthy colours and focus on the environment, trees and animals, using symbols where appropriate, to tell a story. She has loved drawing and painting since early childhood, but took a long break from art to raise a family. She is married to an Englishman and has five grown up children and three grandchildren.She has just resumed making art over the past few years.
Her commitment to Girl Guides commenced in 1961 when she joined a Clayton Unit. She was awarded her Queen’s Guide badge in about 1966 and then took a break until returning to be a leader of the Avoca Unit, and District Leader for Maryborough about 15 years ago. Gwenda now assists her daughter to run the Avoca Gem Guides Unit.
Gwenda works as a lecturer in Aboriginal Health Education at the Melbourne University Department of Rural Health, in Shepparton and Ballarat and is about to undertake a PhD. She has previously worked in Health Services in Vic, Qld and NT. Gwenda is passionate about Aboriginal health, and education, and about improving the wellbeing of Aboriginal people.
She is also an instructor for MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) for both Standard and Aboriginal
courses. Her hobbies are reading, music, bush walks, Girl Guides and family – especially minding grandchildren, and learning more Aboriginal culture and language.