DESPITE using an increase in Aboriginal children enrolled in three-year-old kindergarten as an example of its “positive action towards reconciliation”, Mornington Peninsula Shire will not release actual statistics.
The shire says there has been a 300 per cent increase in Aboriginal enrolments since 2016 but will not reveal how many children are involved.
“We cannot provide the actual numbers … because it may allow individual members of the community to be identified and this is not culturally safe,” community services manager Jo Bradshaw said.
The shire also chose to highlight higher rates in “Aboriginal business procurement, and work” as being among “a number of important actions against the [shire’s] Reconciliation Action Plan”.
When asked to detail the nature of business the shire told The News it had “engaged Aboriginal businesses in the areas of catering and graphic design”.
“Our peninsula is one of the fastest growing Aboriginal areas in Victoria, with a 34 per cent increase, especially in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under the age of 30,” Ms Bradshaw said.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that in 2016 there were 1618 Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders living on the peninsula which has about 170,000 residents.
The original statement about the three-year-old kindergarten increases was contained in a 20 May news release during National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June) listing the shire’s achievements towards reconciliation (“Reconciliation plan’s ‘positive’ outcomes” The News 24/5/21).
In another step toward reconciliation Mornington Community House has assigned Boonwurrung names to its various rooms. The rooms will have signs showing an Indigenous name with its English meaning in italics underneath. The rooms will also be numbered.
The reception area will be known as Mayone Buluk and the office children’s area, Kirrups Barrbunun; consulting rooms will be Djilbruk (Respect) and Ngarra-djarran (Healing); a teaching room Kummargii Yulendji (Arising/Learning); the art room Djeetho (Together); the kitchen dining room Djeembana (Meeting place); child care Kirrups Nairm (Children of the Bay); consult sanctuary Balert-Balert Ngulu (Strong voice); and the multi-purpose classroom, Bunjil (Spirit Creator).