THE COUNCIL chambers’ gallery was filled with friends, family and colleagues on April 24 as Doctor Jim Poulter was presented with Manningham’s Key to the City.
Jim’s important works with Reconciliation Manningham, as a social advocate and as a member of Manningham’s University of the Third Age is the reason Council chose to recognise him with one of the highest honours they can bestow.
Many Diary readers will recognise Jim’s name from his Indigenous history column, Birrarung Stories.
Manningham Mayor Andrew Conlon had this to say before presenting Jim with his award:
“Jim has made a significant contribution to the reconciliation movement.
“Jim has worked closely with Aboriginal Elders and Indigenous organisations to produce educational material on Aboriginal history and cultural practices… has published 25 books, including several acclaimed Aboriginal-themed children’s books, and sold more than 70,000 copies in the past 30 years.
“This includes several acclaimed Aboriginal themed children’s books.
“Jim was also a founding member of Doncare and the Manningham Community Health Centre.
“Since retirement, Jim continues to contribute to the community, giving talks on Aboriginal history and heritage as well as conducting history walks along the Yarra River in Manningham.”
“This is a vehicle to do more — if they are going to give me a key to the city, well it’s got to unlock something, even if it is only their minds.”
At an intimate reception held in the Manningham function rooms following the council meeting, Jim spoke about the significance of his award and his feeling that this is a positive step forward in recognising the rights of Indigenous Australians.
“It’s gratifying to have achievements recognised, but the reality is nobody achieves anything without the help and support of family, friends and colleagues.
“Life’s a journey and we are all involved in journeys with each other and some of our common journeys are for a short time, a long time or sometimes a lifetime,” he said gesturing to his wife of 60 years.
Jim later expanded on the significant role his wife and family have played in enabling him to give in the way he has and how his wife is there to “hose me down every now and again when I get too exuberant”.
Jim concluded his thank you speech with his vision of the future of reconciliation in Manningham.
“This is not the culmination of anything, this is the start of the next phase and gives us the opportunity to get the view of council of what we will be doing next, to make sure that the myth of terra nullius is put to bed in Manningham.
“Council has established a reputation as the leading municipality in reconciliation… so tonight is about building on that.”