Traditional Owners

View from Red Rock  

Acknowledgement of Traditional Custodians

The Colac Otway Shire proudly acknowledges the Gulidjan and Gadubanud peoples as the traditional custodians of the Colac Otway Region. We acknowledge that the Colac Otway Shire is located and conducts business upon lands of the Gulidjan and Gadubanud people.

We pay our respects to their Ancestors and Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship to their traditional lands, which continue to be important to them today and into the future.

National Sorry Day

National Sorry Day, or the National Day of Healing, is an annual event that has been held in Australia on 26 May since 1998, to remember and commemorate the mistreatment of the country's Indigenous peoples, as part of an ongoing process of reconciliation between the Indigenous peoples and the settler population. During the 20th century, Australian government policies caused children to be separated from their families, with the intention of assimilating them into White Australian culture. This resulted in what became known as the Stolen Generations, with the effects of these traumatic removals being felt by succeeding generations and even some of those that live within the Colac  Otway Shire today.

National Sorry Day also coincides with the beginning of Reconciliaton Week, National Reconciliation Week (NRW) plays an integral role in Australia’s broader cultural life.

It is in this week that we raise awareness of the importance of coming together to acknowledge, share and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. It is hoped that moving forward Colac Otway Shire can continue to raise awareness and the importance year round and acknowledge the support of the Colac Aboriginal Community in this process.

National Reconciliation Week


Much has happened since the early days of the people’s movement for reconciliation, including greater acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights to land and sea; understanding of the impact of government policies and frontier conflicts; and an embracing of stories of Indigenous success and contribution.

2020 marked the twentieth anniversary of the reconciliation walks of 2000, when people came together to walk on bridges and roads across the nation and show their support for a more reconciled Australia.

As always, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and Australians now benefit from the efforts and contributions of people committed to reconciliation in the past.

Today we work together to further that national journey towards a fully reconciled country.

Reconciliation is a journey for all Australians – as individuals, families, communities, organisations and importantly as a nation. At the heart of this journey are relationships between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We strive towards a more just, equitable nation by championing unity and mutual respect as we come together and connect with one another.

On this journey, Australians are all in this together; every one of us has a role to play when it comes to reconciliation, and in playing our part we collectively build relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures

Reconciliation Action Plan

Colac Otway Shire – Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan

Reconciliation Action Plans promote and facilitate respect, trust and positive relationships between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Our vision is for a just, equitable and reconciled Australia.

Our role is to set out, in partnership with our community, a clear roadmap toward a reconciled, just and equitable shire. We strive to be a community that values diversity and celebrates culture. The Reflect RAP is guiding Council to look within our organisation to understand how we can nurture and lead reconciliation in our shire. As we work together, building relationships based on mutual respect and understanding, we will continue to grow as a vibrant and inclusive community.

More information about Reconciliation Action Plans can be found at Reconciliation Australia.

A Gifted Spear

Gifted Spear from Traditional Owners

This spear is a gift from the local Aboriginal cultural dance group Koontapool Karween to the Colac Otway Shire Council on 10th July 2018 at the civic NAIDOC Week flag raising ceremony.

The spear was used in the Smoke Ceremony and Spear Dance performed on the grassed area at the front of the Colac Otway Performing Arts and Cultural Centre (COPACC) before a large gathering of people.

The gifted spear represents the continuation of traditional culture in the Otway region.

It was carried to Gulidjan Country, on which COPACC sits, from Gadubanud Country as a sign of respect and giving to all, particularly those who made the process possible.

Its design includes burnings representing five celebrated clan groups in Gadubanud Country, five broader language groups touching Colac and together symbolises two hands coming together with the broader community as one.

The gifted spear is located in the reception area of the Colac Otway Shire's Rae Street office.