It is "unbelievable" that Shoalhaven City Council doesn't have an Indigenous councillor representing the region's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, says a Shoalhaven Community First candidate.
Running for council under Independent Councillor Nina Digiglio's ticket, Andrew McLeod said he will advocate for Indigenous and community issues if elected in the upcoming December elections.
"There is a huge population of Aboriginal people living in the Shoalhaven," said Andrew.
"And I want to join council to provide an Indigenous voice, because there isn't one as councillor, which is unbelievable."
While Shoalhaven City Council collaborates with local Aboriginal communities and implemented an Aboriginal Advisory Committee in 1997, there are currently no Indigenous councillors.
The first Aboriginal Alderman of the Shoalhaven was Ambrose Golden Brown who was elected in 1987. He is a descendent of Tomakin, Wandandian and Murramarang clans.
Andrew said the activism of his father, the late Bobby McLeod, has also motivated him to throw his hat in the ring.
"I watched my dad fight tirelessly for the community and its betterment," the candidate said.
"Back in his day, Nowra was a pretty racist town and I saw him bring about so much change."
Bobby McLeod was an Aboriginal leader and rose as one of the pioneers in the Aboriginal tent embassy where he lived outside Parliament House in Canberra in the 1970s, protesting the McMahon government's approach to Indigenous land rights.
Bobby McLeod was known as a staunch activist, but Andrew said his father didn't want him to go down the same "radical" political path.
"Dad didn't want us to become radical with our politics and thought that sharing culture through dance was another way we could celebrate our community," he said.
And so, Bobby established Doonooch Dancers in 1991.
Andrew took the reins on the traditional dance crew and travelled to over 26 countries representing the South Coast and Yuin Country, performing at huge events like the 2000 Olympic Games, Australia Day in Vietnam and the World Rugby Cup.
He said travelling gave him perspective that other nations had been able to progress with Indigenous issues and that he could advocate for his people back home.
"Listening to the Native Americans and Maori's gave me an understanding that we aren't the only ones being mistreated," said Andrew.
"But it also helped me see how other cultures have achieved things like a Treaty and how behind Australia is on Indigenous issues. It showed me what we can have.
"It gave me the perspective that I needed to come back home and create change."
Andrew is already active in the community and has worked at Oolong House in Nowra as a Drug & Alcohol worker. If elected, he said he would work to combat the ongoing housing crisis in the area and advocate for justice in the community.
At the moment, he is working on a campaign to prevent drug use in the community through education and awareness.
"I've done a lot of work to get community on board to tackle all these issues. I'm running a campaign to bring drug awareness to the community and how it affects families, mothers and children," he said.
"Because there's a lot of grandmothers out there I've met that should be retiring, but find themselves looking after their grandkids, because of their children's drug use."
Asked what he thought about potentially sitting in council with Shoalhaven Independent Greg Watson, who burnt a replica Aboriginal flag in 1982 in a political stunt, he said "bring it on".
"I would love to challenge him," said Mr McLeod.
Local council elections will be held December 4.
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