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Celebrating First Nations Culture with food and dance

In 2023, the AWA launched our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) ahead of National Water Week (16-22 October), and we continue to focus on First Nations people and their role in water management. To celebrate a massive year, AWA staff members were treated to a unique Cultural training day celebrating First Nations people through dance, food and the environment.

As part of AWA’s RAP, we are committed to promoting the voice of First Nations people in the role of water and sustainability.

With the RAP in mind, the activities chosen for the AWA staff Cultural training and Christmas party were selected to deliver on these commitments:

  • Identify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) organisations within our local sphere of influence
  • Research best practice and principles that support partnerships with ATSI stakeholders and organisations
  • Identify external stakeholders that our organisation can engage with on our reconciliation journey
  • Identify RAP and other like-minded organisations that we could approach to collaborate with on our reconciliation journey
  • Develop an understanding of the local Traditional Owners or Custodians of the lands and waters within our organisation’s operational area

On Friday 8 December, AWA Staff travelled to the Malabar Wastewater Treatment Plant to showcase partnerships between Sydney Water, one of our Principal partners and the local Aboriginal community and the amazing outcomes these partnerships can achieve.

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The trip to Malabar was followed by a lunch at Midden by the Opera House, intended to continue AWA staff’s cultural journey, by sampling a menu of native Australian ingredients, put together by world-renowned Aboriginal chef, Mark Olive. The menu we sampled included:

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  • Indigenous Australian Grazing Plate - NSW regional cheeses, native thyme hummus, smoked kangaroo, emu, lemon myrtle tandoori crocodile, olives, pickled vegetables, marinated artichoke, roasted macadamia nuts, quandong paste, Tasmanian mountain pepper leaf flat bread

  • Three main options – Quandong Chicken Breast with Warrigal greens, roasted pine nuts, Dutch carrot, cauliflower blossom; Black Olive Pappardelle with roasted capsicum, sun dried tomato, mushroom, sea parsley, salt bush, pepper leaf; and Smoked Blue Gum Barramundi with Chardonnay vinegar mash, lemon aspen white wine cream sauce

  • Three dessert options – Mark Olive’s Bush Pavlova with native fruit coulis, roasted wattle seed cream; Double Chocolate River Mint Mousse with roasted macadamia wafers; and Strawberry Gum Pana Cotta with candied pepitas, sunflower seeds, poached strawberries

AWA Staff also boarded a cultural cruise with Tribal Warrior, learning more about the Gadigal, Guringai, Wangal, Gammeraigal and Wallumedegal people of Sydney Harbour.

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We stopped at Me-Mel(Goat Island), where we learned more about the effects of colonialism on the Traditional Owners, cultural practices and the local language, before we watched a performance of three dances – the Welcome dance, the Spirit dance and Ocre dance. Staff then participated in a traditional dance that tells the courting story of the lyrebird

In July 2023, as part of the NAIDOC week celebrations, the NSW Government committed to transferring Me-Mel to Aboriginal ownership and management, noting this is about real action on recognition, reconciliation, self-determination and heritage protection. 

We want to thank staff at the Malabar Wastewater Treatment Plant, Midden at the Sydney Opera House and Tribal Warrior for an exciting and informative day.