Katanning Indigenous community members and elders are hopeful for improved relations with the Shire of Katanning after initiating discussions on the new Reconciliation Action Plan last week. Hazel Ealem-Hansen, Shane Woods, and elders Garry Ryder and Jenny Woods represented the Katanning Aboriginal community at Thursday’s meeting where they discussed the Shire’s adopted RAP. Shire manager for community development Denise Gallanagh-Wood orchestrated the meeting for the RAP, which is scheduled to be rolled out in April next year. Ms Ealem-Hansen said she hopes the development of the new RAP will facilitate transparent discussions of recommendations made to the Shire by the Katanning Indigenous community. “We want an open and honest approach in terms of reconciliation,” Ms Ealem-Hansen said. “Coming off the back of the referendum results, there is a lot of mistrust between the Aboriginal community and with services and organisations. “I’m hoping, in good faith, this is going to be the start of an open and honest relationship between the shire and the Aboriginal community.” Ms Gallanagh-Wood has worked with Indigenous elders to form recommendations that will be presented at the council’s RAP meeting in early December. Ms Ealem-Hansen said she hoped the council would support their recommendations and that shire staff are “culturally competent” and trained in cultural awareness. “We hope the shire continues to support any new and ongoing projects that we recommend in the new RAP and the new Shire president and CEO are supportive,” she said. Shire president Kristy D’Aprile said her staff will work closely with the Indigenous community through the RAP meetings to ensure they reach their desired outcomes. “Our role is to facilitate the engagement with the Noongar community and that is certainly one of my priorities,” Ms D’Aprile said. “We really value their input, and we’ll be seeking their guidance over the direction of our community. “The Reconciliation Action Plan will help us to better engage and build a stronger connection with the Noongar leadership and community.” The council’s RAP meeting will take place in early December with the exact date to be confirmed. “We’ll be unpacking the framework of the Reconciliation Action Plan and discussing how we actually connect that into tangible outcomes for our community,” Ms D’Aprile said.