Moving forward together in reconciliation

Kym Callaghan
Kym Callaghan

In the middle of last month, the District Council of Elliston was notified that the Elliston Reconciliation Monument wording had won the council a National Award for local government for ‘Promoting Indigenous Recognition’.

Next Tuesday, June 19, I have the honour of representing the council to receive our award at a lunchtime event at Parliament House in Canberra, and attending that evening at a dinner to announce the winner of the overall National Award for Excellence in Local Government.

At the time of the announcement last month, I said that I would hope and expect that we would have some Wirangu representatives attend with us, as it simply would not feel right accepting the award without them.

So, I’m very pleased to be able to announce that it will be my privilege to go to Canberra with Wirangu Elder Penong Miller, who is also the artist who designed the monument, and Jack Johncock, to receive the award.

Unfortunately, Elder Veda Betts, who I believe is the oldest living Wirangu, avoids planes.

Veda, with Jack and others, was a welcome visitor to the council, and the town for a reconciliation event on June 1.

This is some of what she had to say:

“My belief is that my body has a shadow and the shadow to me represents my spirit.

“My spirit will always be close to me.

“This is how our ancestors are.

“They will always be here but are now at rest because of what we have done.

“Together we must now move forward into the future as one.

“This is what reconciliation is all about and it is why we are here today - to celebrate the special movement forward.

“Let us not carry these past hurts, but help lift each other’s spirits up from the shadows into the light of the future.”

Kym Callaghan

Elliston District Council chairman 


  • What do you feel about the council’s award and about Veda Betts’ message of reconciliation? What else could be done to come together and heal past actions? Email your response letter to