Supporting First Nations Peoples

Acknowledgement of Country

SWAN acknowledges the Bunurong / Boon Wurrung people, the Traditional Custodians of these lands and waters where we meet. We pay our respects to Elders, past and present. In line with our commitment to social justice, SWAN unequivocally supports First Nations People in their campaigns for sovereignty, self-determination, treaties and truth telling. 


Supporting First Nations (SFN) sub-committee

The Supporting First Nations (SFN) sub-committee was established in March 2020 to enhance SWAN’s capacity to:

  1. Engage with local Indigenous communities, especially women;

  2. Advocate for social justice in support of First Nations peoples; and

  3. Raise awareness amongst SWAN members and within our local community about past and ongoing injustices experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The attached paper, approved by the SWAN Committee, outlines the rationale for SWAN becoming an Indigenous Ally.   Why SWAN as Ally Feb 2021

Priority is given to engaging with local Indigenous organisations to:

  1. learn about their work, achievements so far and the challenges that they face; and

  2. determine how SWAN might best support them in their endeavours and campaigns.

SFN provides SWAN members with information and resources about how they can learn more about the historic and current day issues faced by our First Nations peoples, including in this local area now known as the Mornington Peninsula. SFN newsletter May and July 2020

Examples of actions undertaken by SFN during 2020 include:

  • Supporting local campaigns that led to Mornington Peninsula Shire Council a) naming the new aquatic centre in Rosebud: ‘Yawa’, the local Indigenous word for ‘swim’, thereby acknowledging a language of over 40,000 years old; and b) agreeing to replace the derogatory term ‘Blacks Camp’ on a road, preschool and bushland reserve in Somerville.

  • Advocacy with MP Shire Council on cultural heritage, signage and information.

  • Advocacy for the protection of remote communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Writing letters of protest to the Government and media concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Deaths in Custody, Black Lives Matter and age of incarceration.

  • Providing written input for the Willum Warrain Masterplan.

  • Canvasing the views of candidates in the MPSC elections on First Nations issues.

In November 2020 SWAN hosted its annual NAIDOC* Week Address on the theme: ‘Always was, Always will be’. This presentation was given by Teela Reid, a proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, criminal defence lawyer and a passionate advocate for enshrining a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution and a Makarrata Commission to enable Treaty and Truth telling. For further information follow this link:  Why Constitutional Enshrinement is Crucial to Australia’s Future


*NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920′s that sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Following this successful NAIDOC event the SWAN Committee approved an Action Plan to express solidarity with our First Nations peoples in their quest for sovereignty and self-determination; and to support members to participate in truth-telling activities to learn more about the past and current day injustices experienced by Indigenous Australians.


Building connections with local First Nations organisations

The First People of what is now known as the Mornington Peninsula, the Bunurong/Boon Wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, have a rich history of living on this Country, dating back over 40,000 years. Today, the Peninsula has a fast growing Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander population, including Traditional Owners and other Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples with diverse cultures, identities, and stories’ (MPSC Mayor and CEO, 2020).

The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council is committed to playing its part to promote and celebrate Aboriginal cultural heritage, art and cultures.   Importantly, in November 2020 the Shire published its first Reconciliation Action Plan.    MPSC Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2020 - 22,      It has also developed a Calendar of culturally significant dates for First Nations communities.    Calendar of culturally significant dates for First Nations communities  .

SFN members engage with several local First Nations groups and communities, including:

The Warringinee Group based in the MPSC office in Hastings. 

Willum Warrain Gathering Place, Hastings:

Nairm Marr Djambana Frankston Aboriginal Association:

Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Frankston:

Boon Wurrung Foundation:

Baluk Arts, Mornington:  Access the on-line arts store at:

Living Culture: Guided walks and workshops:

Proposed SFN Activities in 2021

On 26 January 2021 SFN supported two events conducted by local First Nations organisations in recognition of the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: the ‘Change the Date Yarning Circle’ and smoking ceremony held at Willum Warrain Gathering Place in Hastings and the ‘Our Survival Day’ musical event organised by Our Songlines and Nairm Marr Djambana Gathering Place, in partnership with several other local First Nations organisations.

In the coming year SWAN plans to honour its commitment to truth-telling, by providing opportunities for members to engage with local First Nations peoples; and to learn more about the history and current day context and challenges faced by Indigenous communities.  SFN will also continue to be involved in a wide range of activities in solidarity with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups.  

Some useful resources

SFN has compiled a list of books and resources that you may find useful:  List of books and resources

How to find out more or become involved

SWAN warmly welcomes all those who would like further information about our engagement with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to contact our Supporting First Nations sub-committee: Email: Maureen Donelly: or call: 0423 806 525.