Members of the Darug community are stunned that Blacktown Council has suspended its acknowledgement of the Darug people as traditional owners of the land.
Council resolved to suspend the current policy at a meeting on October 3, pending a report from its Aboriginal Advisory-sub committee.
A council spokeswoman said though council’s policy required it to consult exclusively with the Darug people and other Aboriginal elders on matters relating to the ‘welcome to country’ and acknowledgement of the traditional owners, it had sought advice from several parties including an Aboriginal Affairs representative and the Local Government Association.
The advice received was that council should consult and engage with all Aboriginal groups.
Darug elder Aunty Sandra Lee said the community was insulted by the move, and that they had not been consulted in any way.
Darug Tribal Aboriginal Corporation member Terry Lee said about 700 Darug people lived in Blacktown.
‘‘We are recognised at Parramatta, Auburn, Holroyd and Ryde Councils, who have never had a problem with acknowledging us as traditional owners of the land, which is a birthright to the Darug people,’’ he said.
‘‘This has done a lot of damage to the actual community.’’
In a bid to appease growing concern over their review of policy, council has said that until it receives a report, there will continue to be an acknowledgement at all council events and functions together with a welcome to country where required.
The acknowledgement makes no mention of the Darug people.
The new words: “Council would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and thank them for their custodianship of this land on which we gather today”.
Cr Edmond Atalla said it had been council’s policy to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land at every official council event and meetings for many years.
‘‘It will be a sad day for Blacktown if this Liberal council tries to follow Mr John Howard’s footsteps and diminish the recognition of our Indigenous people,’’ he said.