More than 80 people have joined a special walk through the centre of town to the Esperance Foreshore to mark the beginning of NAIDOC Week.
The opening ceremony began at the Shire Administration Building on Monday morning, July 8, with a presentation from Esperance Tjaltjraak Native Title Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Gail Reynolds-Adamson, who stated the importance of this year's theme and what it means to our nation's first peoples.
This year's theme is 'Voice. Treaty. Truth', the three key elements of the reforms set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017.
As the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, the theme recognises that it's time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' knowledge be heard through their voice.
"The history of our first peoples is a history of all of us as Australians and we need to own this," Mrs Reynolds-Adamson said.
"Hearing this story and the history is necessary before we can come to true reconciliation and genuine healing on both sides.
"Let us work together for a shared future here in Australia."
Having unanimously endorsed the Shire of Esperance's first Reconciliation Plan earlier this year, shire deputy president Natalie Bowman said the community could look forward to a lot more voices within our community.
"In May, the Shire of Esperance approved the Reconciliation Action Plan, the very first one for our community," she said.
"I had a read over it last night and realised that we must have had some inside knowledge into this year's theme because many of the actions in this plan are very much about voice, treaty and truth.
"We can look forward to seeing a whole lot more voices around our community on our signage, some language on our signage and stories.
"I'm very excited to be a part of that and I look forward to it."
In his last formal duty as the region's officer in charge, Esperance Police senior sergeant Steve Thompson spoke at length about the strength of the relationship between police and the Aboriginal community.
"Our apology, issued by Police commissioner Chris Dawson, acknowledges that wounds have been caused by the police and highlighted the need to heal and build trust," he said.
"We're looking to the future, through the Aboriginal Cadet Scheme, it's a wonderful resource.
"I'm pleased to say that we should have two cadets here by the end of the month and I hope that they will inspire our local youth to join the police force as well.
"As Gail pointed out, the relationship between the police and the Aboriginal community has grown stronger.
"We're working together.
"I've formed some very close friendships with the Aboriginal community, particularly Tjaltjraak, and I think it's very fitting that this NAIDOC event will be my last formal event as the officer in charge at Esperance Police Station.
"I leave with the confidence and knowledge that we are working together for the future."
The ceremony concluded with the raising of the flags and a minute's silence before a 'walk with us' to the Whale Tail and a free sausage sizzle at the Esperance Foreshore.