First Nations Cultural Programs and Reconciliation

The Yalukit Wilum - The First People of Hobsons Bay

Council is committed to promoting awareness of Indigenous history and celebrating contemporary Aboriginal culture, creating opportunities within its arts and cultural programs. Artists are booked to feature in city wide programming like Summer Sound and Arts At Your Doorstep, and in supporting programs during Reconciliation Week and a community flag raising ceremony during NAIDOC Week.


The Yalukit Willum - The First People of Hobsons Bay

A short history of the first people of Hobsons Bay is available here to download. The booklet was reprinted in 2011 with contemporary images curated by Bindi Cole, and featuring the work of artists Ben McKeown and Megan Cadd. 


NAIDOC WEEK 2021 - “Heal Country”

Hobsons Bay City Council recognises NAIDOC Week which runs from 4 to 11 July each year, as an important annual celebration of the history, culture, and achievements of First Nations people. This year’s theme is ‘Heal Country!’.

Council recognises NAIDOC Week as part of the Hobsons Bay Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan. The 2021 NAIDOC Week program includes:

Womindjeka – gateway flags: During July, flags printed with Womindjeka will be installed at the gateway flagpole sites in Melbourne Road (Spotswood), Millers Road (Brooklyn), Kororoit Creek Road (Altona) and Queen Street (Altona Meadows) as a COVID-Safe way of promoting First Australians’ culture. Womindjeka is a Kulin Nation word used as a welcome, translating as ‘Come, with purpose’. The flags have been designed by Aretha Brown, a proud Gumbaynggirr woman, artist (her work includes the street art We Are Here at Challis Street) and former Prime Minister of the National Indigenous Youth Parliament.

Aretha is described as a passionate, strong, fierce and inspiring change maker. Aretha is a staunch activist in social justice, fighting for the rights of LGBTQI people, women and the Indigenous community. In 2017 Aretha was elected the first female Prime Minister of the Indigenous Youth Parliament in Canberra.

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49 Years of NAIDOC: NAIDOC Week exhibition: From National Aborigines’ Day in 1972 to NAIDOC Week today, explore the continuity and change in almost 50 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activism and celebrations of culture. This exhibition displays posters from NAIDOC Week and its predecessors from the past 49 years. View it at the Williamstown Library, 104 Ferguson Street, during library hours until Sunday, July 11.

Plus a reminder about Book Club: Benevolence: Lenka Vanderboom is running a special Book Club event exploring Benevolence by Julie Janson. Benevolence is set around the Hawkesbury River area, the home of the Darug people, in Parramatta and Sydney, from 1816 – 1835. The intensely visual prose interweaves historical events with detailed characters to shatter stereotypes and give a voice to an Aboriginal experience of early settlement. Author Julie Janson is a Burruberongal woman of Darug Aboriginal Nation. Lenka Vanderboom grew up in the Kimberley on her Yawuru homelands, and is a Director of Indigenous publishing house Magabala Books Indigenous publishing house. The free event is on Thursday July 29 from 6.30pm to 7.30pm at the Williamstown Library and online. Register via

Lost Lands Found – self-directed reflection: Hobsons Bay locals are encouraged to visit Lost Lands Found during NAIDOC Week 2021. The site in Logan Reserve is a fitting representation of this year’s theme “Heal Country!”.  As creator of the site Dean Stewart, a Wemba Wemba Wergaia man, stated, "Reconciliation is not just between black and white, but it is a reconciliation of us all, as a people back with the land, for we are all the newest custodians and caretakers of this ancient land which we now all call  - Our Home!”



Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional land of the Kulin Nation. We recognise the First People’s relationship to this land and offer our respect to their elders, past and present.

For tens of thousands of years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have cared for country.

In this place, the peoples of the Kulin Nation sustained healthy communities and wisely managed the resources of these lands by the bay.

We pay respect to the Elders, past and present, and welcome the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as we shape a future in which all thrive.

Council’s commitment to Reconciliation

Council’s vision for reconciliation is one in which the broader community is positively engaged with and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and peoples. Council envisages a community that celebrates the value and diversity of our First Nations and one in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples feel a sense of pride and belonging.

Council acknowledges that Reconciliation is an ongoing practical process that requires trust, mutual respect and a commitment to build understanding and recognition.

Reconciliation Action Plan

Council has renewed its commitment to progressing reconciliation in Hobsons Bay by adopting its first Reconciliation Action Plan 2019-21 (PDF, 4MB).

This follows Council, in July 2011, adopting a Reconciliation Policy (PDF, 51KB), which acts as a framework for ongoing activities.

Council also:

  • acknowledges the people of Yalukit Willum of the Boon Wurrung Country that makes up the Greater Kulin Nation, traditional owners of lands currently within Hobsons Bay City Council boundary areas, at official Hobsons Bay City Council functions
  • flies the Aboriginal flag all year around and the Torres Strait Islander flags during NAIDOC Week and Reconciliation Week
  • facilitates a relationship with Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council, Queensland
  • manages arts and culture activities that promote indigenous culture


National Reconciliation Week

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

The dates for NRW remain the same each year: 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey — the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.

Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

For more information visit Council's Reconciliation page or the National Reconciliation Week website

Yarrabah Shire Council

In 2003 the Towards Reconciliation Working Group initiated a friendship with Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council with the aim of enhancing learning and understanding of each other's cultures.

In December 2006 the two councils formally established this friendship and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote understanding and links between the two communities. The MOU was renewed in October 2012.

The alliance focuses on education, arts and culture, infrastructure, environment, business and reconciliation.

Yarrabah Shire is an independent Aboriginal community situated in north Queensland approximately 7km from Cairns. The area has a population of around 4000 people.

You can find more information at Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council Friendship Alliance.


Special events and projects

Racism - It stops with me

Hobsons Bay is proud of its cultural diversity. The people that work, live, learn and play in Hobsons Bay are from more than 140 countries of origin, speak over 100 languages and celebrate over 90 faiths. Hobsons Bay City Council supports intercultural relationships between people and groups to foster a sense of belonging for all.

Discrimination based on race is against the law. Racism has long term negative impacts on people’s health and wellbeing.

Hobsons Bay City Council is committed to:

  • raising awareness of racism and how it impacts individuals and the broader community
  • supporting individuals and community to prevent and reduce racism, and to seek help when it occurs

Find out more about Racism - It stops with me.


Orbital is an exhibition space located within the exterior wall of the new Aldi supermarket at Central Square in Altona Meadows. The space provides a great opportunity to showcase culture and local artists. Each exhibition is locally curated or themed with curators work with local schools, and community groups. Exhibitions held in this innovative space can be viewed outside 9am to 9pm, seven days a week.

Click here to find out more about Orbital.

First Nations Creative Program at Woods Street Arts Space

The first Wednesday of every month, Council hosts a drop in session for the First Nations community to come together and create new works. Workshops have included Indigenous weaving with Donna Blackall, Ceramics with Karen Steenbergen and wood carving with Mike Nicholls. Session vary depending of the interests of the group.

For more information or you are keen to join the group contact

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Lost Lands Found

Lost Lands Found, presented by Dean Stewart - Wemba Wemba Wergaia, in partnership with Hobsons Bay City Council, is a high density development and ecological art project established in Logan Reserve, Altona, adjacent to the Altona Homestead. 

This urban development is not highlighting our people, but our ecological neighbours – Altona’s local Indigenous wildflowers, grasses, herbs and lilies.

Hobsons Bay children and their families are invited to join an online creative program creating artwork responding to the natural landscape of Hobsons Bay, from the indigenous flowering grasslands to the bugs and animals that would have inhabited this landscape prior to the colonial settler, inspired by Dean Stewart’s Lost Lands Found project.

Find out more about Lost Lands Found or the Lost Land Found Creative Program for Children.


Other Cultural Heritage Resources

Aboriginal Affairs

Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice

National NAIDOC

Reconciliation Victoria

Rivers to Recognition Resource Directory(PDF, 4MB)

Boon Wurrung Ngargee booklet(PDF, 4MB)


The Message Tree Project

During 2019, members of the community joined together with a desire to research and share the story of “The Message Tree”,  a significant She-Oak and meeting place for the First People that stood on the corner of Nelson Place and Thompson Street, Williamstown and was later removed in 1857. Around this tree, early colonists saw the Yalukit-willam, led by N’Arweet Boollutt (also called King Benbow), as they conducted ceremonies and councils here. The site of “The Message Tree” marks a special place for Boon wurrung people to this today.

The research on “The Message Tree” was compiled by local resident and cultural historian Greg Thorpe in consultation with Caroline Martin, Boon wurrung Custodian and Director of Yalikut Marnang.

The project was funded through Council’s Community Grants program as a shared history research project that included contributions from 23 individuals representing 14 local organisations, including GetUp Out West and Victoria Police.

Please see link to the story of the Message Tree – The Message Tree Story(PDF, 117KB)


Past projects

SOUL4GIVE In residence at Woods Street Arts Space

Local First Nations community are leading a new program on Sundays at the Arts Space in Laverton that includes singing, song writing and drumming workshops as well as rehearsals for the Reclaim community choir that sings from the Dhungala songbook.

All members of the community are welcome to join.

Led by Shauntai Batzke, talented Wiradjuri Soprano and proud Miriam Torres Strait Islander man, Robbie Batzke, with special guests.

For more information contact

Soul4Give curated the music program for the Laverton Block Party on 28 April, which marked the seventh birthday of Woods Street Arts Space. The event featured a diverse range of performances from a community choir, participatory dance, spoken word and the headline act was the legendary Bart Willoughby.


Rivers to Recognition

The Rivers to Recognition campaign aimed to raise awareness about the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as the First Australians. Six western region councils under the banner of the Western Region Local Government Reconciliation Network (WRLGRN) partnered to deliver the campaign.

The program included a major Western Region forum in Footscray about the Constitutional referendum, smaller community forums across the western region including Hobsons Bay, and a live music event at Commonwealth Reserve, Williamstown to celebrate culture and recognise First Australians. Headline acts at the concert were be highly acclaimed and award winning artist Archie Roach with Radical Son, Frank Yamma, SKIN CHOIR and Nancy Bates.

A series of free workshops and community forums, hosted by ANTaR and Reconciliation Victoria, examined what constitutional recognition means and why it is important. A diversity of views regarding the proposed changes was be presented and discussed as part of the forums.

Western region councils support conversations about the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by developing a local resource guide which is available at libraries and secondary schools across Melbourne’s west. Council partnered with Reconciliation Victoria and the Western Region Local Government Reconciliation Network (WRLGRN) including Brimbank, Maribyrnong, Melton, Moonee Valley and Wyndham City councils. For more information contact Hobsons Bay City Council on 1300 179 944.