Yass Valley celebrates voice during NAIDOC Week 2019 | photos

"Yumalundi ngunna yarraba yengu" is the Ngunnawal Aboriginal language for "You are all welcome to leave your footprints on our land."

They were the words of Onerwal Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO and Brad Bell during Yass Valley's NAIDOC Week 2019 celebrations.

Everyone was welcome during the raising of the Australian Aboriginal flag and morning tea at Yass Soldiers' Memorial Hall on Monday and the local Aboriginal community, broader community and Yass Valley Council representatives attended.

The theme of NAIDOC Week 2019 is 'voice, treaty and truth' and Mr Bell said the Aboriginal community wanted their voice to be made stronger, for treaties to recognise the traditional owners of the land and for Australians to accept the truth about their history.

"I think it's important for people in the Yass Valley to understand it's only been in recent years that we've had a voice through the Yass Valley Aboriginal Advisory Committee and Yass Valley Council with the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)," Mr Bell said.

The RAP was accepted by the local Aboriginal community and the council in February 2019. It outlines agreed initiatives that the council and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (ATSI) will work together on and ensures ATSI people are consulted on council projects and plans.

"I'd like to see that developed across jurisdictions, education and health to give us a greater voice," Mr Bell said.

Mr Bell said the Yass Valley's RAP gave the local Aboriginal community a stronger voice but that he didn't want it to become a stagnant document.

"I think it should be reviewed as often as possible," he said.

"I also think it's a step in the right direction having the deputy mayor here today, we've been able to talk candidly."

Yass Valley Council's deputy mayor Nathan Furry was among councillors and council staff who attended the NAIDOC Week celebrations.

Cr Furry said the RAP needed to be a living document and involve the whole community.

"It's a journey to reconciliation and it involves everyone in the community, we all have a part to play," he said.

In another step towards creating a stronger voice for the Aboriginal community, Mr Bell said there had been discussions about creating a second Indigenous word for 'Australia'.

Australia derives from the Latin word 'australis', which means southern.

"That just adds to voice, treaty and truth," Mr Bell said. "The truth being about recognising our unique history, who we are as Australians and where we want to be in the future."

Mr Bell said the Aboriginal community would also like to see an agreement to return the Oak Hill Aboriginal Reserve in Yass as an Aboriginal place.

Oak Hill was an area where many members of the Yass Valley's Aboriginal community lived until the mid-1970s.

"I think 'treaty' is really important because it recognises the traditional owners and allows both parties (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people) to negotiate for a common cause and purpose," Mr Bell said.

"It also gives us further recognition of who we are and who our ancestors were. We all have to recognise the truth about our history and where Australians came from."

Yass Valley's NAIDOC Week celebrations were also a chance for the Aboriginal community's young people to acknowledge their history, culture and achievements.

Lilly Latu, aged 3, was among the children who raised the flag. She said NAIDOC Week was a celebration and that it was good to see her cousins.

Zara Bell, aged 12, said NAIDOC week was about "all the family coming together."

Ngunnawal Aboriginal elders Ken and Pam Bell have seen many NAIDOC Week celebrations in the Yass Valley. They said numbers were down at this year's celebration because of the rain, but that it didn't worry them.

"It's always a bit chilly in July so we decided just to do the tea and raising of the flag and then we'll do a family day in the warmer months," Mrs Bell said.

They said they felt there was still a long way to go towards reconciliation in the Yass Valley.

"We're making little steps but not big steps in the right direction. Although, any step forward is better than none," Mr Bell said.