THE chief of an organisation representing the Wimmera's Indigenous community says it is changing the way it communicates with members to meet their expectations.
Barengi Gadjin Land Council chief executive Michael Stewart's comment follows the organisation's board issuing a public apology to former executive officer Sandy Hodge and cultural heritage manager Gail Harradine.
The organisation said, in a statement on Friday, that the way in which it handled Mr Hodge and Ms Harradine's dismissals in 2010 was "unprofessional", "unjust" and "culturally inappropriate".
The statement also said "apparent rumours" of "alleged financial mismanagement" during their tenure were unfounded.
Mr Stewart said "a lot of stories were created" following the dismissals.
"A lot of statements were made that shouldn't have been - some of them breached other agreements which were in place, and that created a lot of mistrust. This apology process is about all of that," he said.
On June 1 2010, six Victoria Police staff escorted Mr Hodge, Ms Harradine and office manager Tracey Rigney from the land council's Darlot Street premises.
At the time, Mr Hodge told the Mail-Times the termination letters did not give reasons why the three staff members had been fired - referring only to an impasse between the board and staff and saying it would ensure the council could be run effectively.
Mr Stewart said mediation process had been ongoing for a number of years.
"We followed this process in accordance with our rule book and sought independent support for that," he said. "It's been an ebb and flow of family and directors to take part in that mediation that has drawn that out, unfortunately, but it's been great that after three or so years we have been able to get to this point."
Mr Stewart said there had been no financial settlement as part of the mediation.
He said Barengi Gadjin Land Council had changed its internal communication processes following broadscale engagement with Traditional Owners.
"We have a different governance structure around adhering to the principles of free, prior and informed consent around decision-making processes," he said.
"A lot of those conversations the board will refer to our full group to ensure as many people as possible can understand various opportunities, concerns or risks within Traditional Owner rights and interests.
"That then provides us with a strong mandate for the corporation to protect and manage those rights and interests. (Things like) managing community hurt... there is an expectation of the mob to provide leadership in that space for all family groups to be able work together, even where there are differences."
The land council represents Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagalk Traditional Owners of the Wimmera and Southern Mallee.
Its members are descendents of eight common ancestors born in the region in the 19th century.
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