One of the few exciting announcements regarding the arts in yesterday’s Federal Budget would have to be the $50 million confirming an ALP election promise for the Whadjuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre on Noongar Country in Perth. With $52 million also promised by the WA State Government, this looks like a definite goer.
This is how the WA Government sees it:
“The State of Western Australia is embarking on an exciting and transformational journey. Led by Aboriginal people and working in partnership with the State Government, work has commenced on planning for a central place of significance to empower Aboriginal people in telling their histories and demonstrating their culture.
Aboriginal Cultural Centre Survey
We want to hear from you! Ni, boola daa waangkiny — ‘Listen, to the many voices talking’, is the guiding principle for preparing the business case and project definition plan for the Aboriginal Cultural Centre by the end of 2022.
Establishing a flagship Aboriginal Cultural Centre with State-wide significance has been identified as a major cultural infrastructure need for Western Australia. The centre presents an extraordinary opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the world’s oldest continuous living culture and share it with the nation and the world.
An Aboriginal Cultural Centre (ACC) of global significance will not only celebrate the diversity of WA’s Aboriginal communities but inspire visitors to explore all regions of the State to experience first hand the unique offerings available”.
So, AAD readers are invited to contribute their thoughts on the values of this ACC, perhaps bearing in mind that Adelaide is definitely getting its own First Nations Cultural Centre – Tarrkarri; Mparntwe should have a national Aboriginal art centre as the Budget confirms the $80million promised to the NT Government; and Canberra is talking about something that appears to be half-way between a museum and a sorting office for Indigenous remains and artefacts returned from institutions around the world.
The WA Government explains: “Responses to this survey will ensure a diversity and richness of views are considered in the development of the business case and planning for a State-wide Aboriginal Cultural Centre”.
To be located on the traditional lands of the Whadjuk people in the Perth city, the ACC will commemorate the ongoing connections to the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River). As traditional custodians of the land, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation will host the centre and play a key role in planning for the centre.
The centre will recognise and celebrate Aboriginal culture from across Western Australia (only) and contribute to the cultural infrastructure of the State. The centre will provide spaces for art, performance, education, research, community and commercial activities.
Aboriginal engagement strategy
An Aboriginal engagement strategy has been developed to guide meaningful engagement with Aboriginal people for this project. The strategy outlines the community engagement process with the Whadjuk (as the host nation) and the other five Noongar Indigenous Land Use Agreement Areas. The process then expands to include the remaining regions of Western Australia using traditional story and song lines.
Noongar ILUAs are Whadjuk, Yued, Ballardong, Gnaala Karla Boodja, South West Boodja and Wagyi Kaip. This represents an amalgamation of the fourteen groups that make up the Noongar Nation.
The planning for the project will include extensive engagement with Aboriginal people and communities across the State, using a Cultural Authority Framework which will embed Aboriginal-led community engagement and cultural decision-making processes in the development and ongoing operation of the ACC.
In a milestone moment that is a first for any major State Government project, cultural representatives have been appointed as members of the Steering Committee overseeing this project. Initially, Gordon Cole, Charne Hayden, Peter Hill, Cheryl Martin, Beverley Port Louis, and Barry Winmar were elected as Whadjuk ACC Project Cultural Authority representatives in December 2021, at a gathering of over 80 Whadjuk Male and Female Elders.
The Premier’s Parliamentary Secretary, Ms Sabine Winton was the appointed Chair of the Steering Committee and joins representatives from the Departments of Finance; Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC); Premier and Cabinet; and Treasury to complete the membership of the Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee, meeting monthly through 2022, has identified the need to establish a panel of Aboriginal subject matter experts to provide advice regarding project development and technical detail”.