Civic engagement and cultural recognition momentum on Norfolk Island

In line with my commitment to you for better communications, I am pleased to advise that last week Departmental representatives worked with local community members to progress opportunities for cultural recognition and community empowerment.

These on island discussions are part of ongoing engagement between Council of Elders (COE) and Norfolk Island People for Democracy (NIPD) representatives and Administrator Eric Hutchinson and senior representatives of my department.

I know these are matters of interest and importance to the whole Norfolk Island community and you will all have the opportunity to contribute to them in coming months.

I thank the CoE and NIPD for their commitment to these initial discussions, good progress has been made in considering possible options to enhance cultural recognition. These are complex issues and we will continue to take considered steps together to achieve greater local empowerment and increased trust.

Our collective responsibility for the preservation of the World Heritage KAVHA site is so important. On Kingston governance, agreement has been reached that Mr Hutchinson as chair of the KAVHA Advisory Committee will invite the Council of Elders to nominate a representative to join the committee. This is a short-term interim step ahead of a reconstitution of the Committee’s membership next year to include elected community representatives.

Knowing the strong desire for local representation and increased community involvement in decision-making, it was also agreed that a Norfolk Island steering committee – which would include community-elected representatives – will be established. This committee would have input to government services and governance matters. There will be further work done on the formation of this steering committee as we move into 2023.

As I said recently, I am keen to work with the community to reinstate a preamble to the Norfolk Island Act that recognises the relationship of descendants of the settlers from Pitcairn Island with Norfolk Island, their traditions, culture and history.

The CoE will be supported to draft wording which will strengthen the cultural elements of a preamble. There will then be open community engagement on a draft Preamble to ensure a comprehensive community view can be formed.

I look forward to keeping you informed as your opportunities to contribute are developed.