I am a proud and passionate Wurundjeri Woiwurrung Elder, who worked in cultural heritage for 10 years before beginning a role in local government. Having received qualifications in Indigenous Leadership, and local government administration, as well as being a member on the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation Board of Directors and Co-Chair at South Eastern DHHS Aboriginal Working Group. Uncle Colin yarns with Hayley MAC about what NAIDOC means to him and his role as an Elder.
Uncle Colin Hunter whose traditional lands extend from inner-city Melbourne south to the Mordialloc Creek, west to the Werribee River and east to Mount Baw Baw. Uncle Colin Hunter is the first Traditional Owner in Victoria to be employed ‘on Country’ in local government, and has worked at Yarra City Council managing their Aboriginal Partnership Policy for many years. In my 12 years at Yarra City Council I am very proud of the leadership shown and the work I have been able to achieve, including being the first Victorian local government to properly consult community before making the decision to make a stand on January 26, supporting the ‘Change the Date’ campaign along with other recommendations to the Federal government.
My work at Yarra Council has included supporting some of the most disadvantaged community members, such as the Fitzroy ‘parkies’, protecting the culturally important meeting place at Atherton Gardens from development and installing the Stolen Generations Marker after extensive consultation. I believe solid consultation processes and strong relationships are at the heart of all meaningful projects, decisions and policies. As a Wurundjeri Board member for approximately 11 years, I have seen our organisation grow, overseeing the expanding economic development of the organisation and increase in culturally relevant employment opportunities.
My role as Elder and Traditional Owner of Melbourne has allowed me the chance to speak for the protection of culturally important landscapes as well as the natural environment more generally. I was on the Interim Yarra River Lands Advisory Committee – now established and operating as the Birrarung Council. I was also honoured to present the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017 and speaking Woiwurrung language in parliament for the first time since colonisation. I feel a strong connection to the land of my Ancestors.