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Aboriginal Matters

Mayor Ann Ferguson

We wish to acknowledge and respect that we are meeting upon the lands of the Peramangk people who are highly respected rainmakers, sorcerers, doctors and the fire givers among the other Aboriginal nations.

We further recognise and respect that the Peramangk have for millennia had a deep and intrinsic connection to these lands and respect their ongoing right to maintain that connection both spiritually and culturally.

Nothing in our actions today shall disrespect or undermine the Peramangk people’s rights to use, enjoy or occupy their lands, without their express permission to do so.  We acknowledge that in the past this may not have been the case, but we now extend this respect to the living descendants of the Peramangk people.

The Adelaide Hills Reconciliation Working Group (AHRWG) is a regional reference group that assists the Adelaide Hills and Mount Barker District Councils to develop and implement their Reconciliation Action Plans. It also provides general advice on matters that impact the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

There are nearly 600 residents in the Adelaide Hills region who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (2016 Census, 220 Adelaide Hills Council, 360 Mount Barker District Council). The councils of this region recognise that the Aboriginal heritage and living culture of First Nation Peoples is a fundamental part of our district and thriving communities.


Reconciliation is about Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians talking, walking, and working together to overcome the reasons for division and inequality between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

Reconciliation is a nationally recognised approach to:

  • Recognising and celebrating Aboriginal culture and contributions
  • Building and strengthening our engagement with the Aboriginal community
  • Acknowledging the impact of the past for Aboriginal people
  • Building a future together

“As Australians, we are all here, woven into this country. As part of our reconciliation journey, there are truths to tell, stories to celebrate, and relationships to grow. Reconciliation is at the heart of our nations’ future” – Reconciliation Australia

For everyone

Reconciliation is not a niche topic; it is relevant to all people:

  • Peramangk and Kaurna traditional custodians
  • Non-Aboriginal people who live and work in the area
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live and work in our area

The AHRWG will use the Adelaide Hills and Mount Barker District Councils’ websites to share information and resources with the general public. We welcome community interest and feedback.

Meet your Adelaide Hills Reconciliation Working Group

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Skye Akbar

Skye has lived in the Hills for around eight years with her family and loves being a part of the Hills community.

Originally from the Eyre Peninsula, Skye is of the Waljen group of the Wongutha Peoples. She established her understanding of communities, regions, and economies there with a family in primary production.

Skye works as a Research Fellow focusing on research that supports self-determined community economic development and wellbeing for local peoples and regions.

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Deanne Hanchant-Nichol

Deanne is a life-long Hills local.

A descendant of the Tanganekald and Ramindjeri peoples through her grandmother, and of the Barkindji peoples through her grandfather, Deanne also has family connections to the Narungga and Kaurna people. Deanne’s mother’s family are descendants of the Prussian Weinerts who arrived in the hills in 1841 and settled in Lobethal.

Deanne works as a consultant for Aboriginal employment and development at UniSA. She was a writer of the 2014 Reconciliation Action Plan and instrumental in establishing a Kaurna Welcome for the new Vice Chancellor in 2013.

She is a recipient of the Vice Chancellor’s Professional Staff Excellence Award, for reconciliation and working across boundaries, as well as a Gladys Elphick Award, for influencing positive change for Aboriginal people in the workforce.

Deanne is also a Hills Treasure.

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Lou Turner

Lou is a proud Pitjantjatjara Anangu man with Indonesian and Scottish heritage. He is guided by his experiences of growing up between cultures, families, and environments.

His experiences have led to a belief in the value of reciprocity and Lou aspires to seek understandings and solutions that can embolden processes of reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. He believes that this can be achieved through a mutual exchange of ideas and a willingness to heal our past and grow a proud future together.

Lou expresses faith in the process of harnessing collective strengths to raise and sustain a future of united voice that can talk of a national identity we can all own and be proud of.

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Tanya Michelle

Tanya has lived in the Hills for seven years, having been born and raised in Tasmania.

A proud Aboriginal woman, Tanya currently works as a Narrative Therapist and Social Worker for the Aboriginal Community Health sector, with experience across many Aboriginal communities in Australia.

Tanya is committed to reconciliation that builds connections and understanding between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the wider Australian community. She believes that this should be embedded in a connection and respect for Country and the landscape.

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Hayley Willis

Hayley has lived on Peramangk Country for most of her life. Her mother, an Eastern and Northern Arrente woman, was born in Alice Springs and, when removed from her family, was adopted by a family in Flaxley.

Hayley has been in an Aboriginal education role for over 11 years, currently working as an Aboriginal Services Engagement Officer for the Department for Education.

Linking local schools with reconciliation events and activities is important for Hayley, as is creating more curriculum resources for Peramangk Country.

Hayley organises the Just Too Deadly Awards which is an annual event that celebrates Aboriginal students living in the Adelaide Hills.

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Parry Agius

Parry is a country lad a heart who appreciates the Adelaide Hills for its natural beauty, and community of people from all walks of life.

He is a people-focused leader, facilitator and strategic advisor with broad experience in community engagement who enjoys working with groups, and learning from others; creating opportunities to share, grow and build relationships. Parry believes that this is where reconciliation can breathe and find a home amongst us all.

Parry is looking forward to discovering what the working group can get off the ground and share with the wider community on a reconciliation journey.

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Kirrilee Boyd

Kirrilee joins the working group as an elected member of the Adelaide Hills Council.

She enters the role with an open heart and looks forward to making worthwhile contributions towards building even stronger communities.

Kirrilee lives in the Hills with her family and considers the district to be beautiful, vibrant, and peaceful. She is determined to ensure that the things that make it so special are preserved and enhanced.

Kirrilee states that she does not approach this role to lead, but to listen. She would like to facilitate community ownership of the Reconciliation Action Plan, while collaborating and celebrating the gifts that indigenous culture provides for the whole community.

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Samantha Jones

Samantha joins the working group as an elected member of the Mount Barker District Council.

A Hills local for ten years, Sam is committed to using her experience, skills and strengths to contribute to the community.

Sam joins the working group with an aim to communicate the importance of reconciliation to the wider Adelaide Hills community. She feels that the rich Aboriginal heritage and culture needs to be upheld, respected and preserved.

An empathetic and natural leader, Sam is excited to work with such a diverse, cultured and welcoming group to expand her own knowledge of First Nation Peoples and acknowledge the impact of the past.

In 2019 a ‘ Welcome to Peramangk Country’ booklet and an ‘Peramangk’ Activity book were produced.

Download your copy:

Welcome to Peramangk Country

Welcome to Peramangk Land Cover

Peramangk Activity Booklet

Peramangk Activity Book Cover

A special thanks to the following who assisted with these resources:

  • Ivan-Tiwu Copley, Peramangk Elder
  • Mark Elliot, Cultural Advisor
  • The students at Mt Barker Primary School for the artwork and Ros Cameron (ACEO)
  • Hayley Willis
  • Tasma Rudeforth
  • Peter McGinn, Mount Barker District Council
  • Bec Stevens, Meadows Cheese Factory (design)
Reconciliation Week 2020 - In this together (short version)

For the full video click here

Reconciliation Week 2017 - A Girl from Alice