By GENEVIEVE THORPE
Bayside residents gathered to celebrate Indigenous culture yesterday, showcasing a smoke ceremony practiced by a local Aboriginal community member and featuring Indigenous delicacies.
The event, held at the Beaumaris Life Saving Club, was to acknowledge and respect Indigenous heritage, and discuss reconciliation with the local community.
Boon Wurrung man David Tournier conducted the commencing smoke ceremony, where attendees were invited to cleanse their spirits in the smoke of eucalyptus and other gum leaves.
Mr Tournier said the smoke ceremony strengthened participants’ connection with nature, and allowed them to “take time out” of their busy lives.
He encouraged attendees to “feel the breeze” and “listen to their surroundings” as they basked and cleansed themselves in the smoke.
Attendees were encouraged to provide feedback about the Bayside City Council’s Draft Reconciliation Action Plan, which aims to achieve reconciliation through arts, environmental protection and cultural education.
The Action Plan aims to protect and promote Indigenous cultural heritage and Indigenous wellbeing in Bayside.
Bayside Mayor Cr Heffernan said the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group, which will monitor the council’s progress, will be an important step towards reconciliation and “moving forward”.
“The Draft Reconciliation Action Plan will drive our contribution to reconciliation, both internally and in our community,” he said.
Cr Heffernan encouraged the community to provide honest feedback.
“We want to get your views on what we’re doing here.”
Bayside resident and poet Vivian Engel said the event was a “great opening” to the council’s efforts working towards reconciliation.
“I hope that these people that were present today will contribute in their own ways,” she said.
Ms Engel, who moved to Bayside from Denmark six years ago, said she appreciated the deep respect Australians had for Indigenous culture.
“There are so many ceremonies in Australia honouring that, and I really like that,” she said.
Bayside residents can provide feedback on the Draft Reconciliation Action Plan until Sunday, May 12.