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The METRONET Noongar Reference Group provides cultural input and advice into the METRONET Program. Working with key stakeholders, the group delivers valuable input into place making engagement streams of the METRONET Gnarla Biddi Strategy.
The group is made up of 6 members, with nominated representatives from the Whadjuk and Gnaala Karla Booja working parties. Each member has a different story and background which helps guide their cultural input into the METRONET Program.
With a strong family connection to the railway, Peter Michael is proud to be involved in the progression of new rail infrastructure in Western Australia through the METRONET Program.
The METRONET Noongar Reference Group is an opportunity for Peter to contribute in his own way as a proud advocate for Noongar people.
“It puts a smile on my face to be involved, have input and tell our stories and when the METRONET projects are complete, I will feel proud being part of the METRONET Noongar Reference Group, just like my father and grandfather would have felt putting the railway together,” Peter explains.
Involved in railway work from the age of 16, Peter believes his personal experience, and that of his family’s, plays an important role in the focus of the group, providing cultural input and advice across the METRONET projects.
Passionate about advocating for Aboriginal people in the workforce and in social settings, Peter worked on the Community Development Program as a trainer for Aboriginal people. This program was administered by the National Indigenous Australians Agency and aimed to develop skills and address barriers to employment.
The opportunities that the rail infrastructure industry has brought Aboriginal people allows for a significant impact on the future railway system in Perth, and Peter believes this is what the METRONET Noongar Reference Group brings to the program.
Greg Ugle is passionate about having a voice for Noongar people and the METRONET Noongar Reference Group is a way for him to bring awareness to the Noongar language and make a positive change through METRONET projects.
“When I drive along Tonkin Highway, I tell my grandchildren about the stations and the work we’re doing to give them Noongar names so they can understand what these places mean through Noongars and the Government working together,” Greg explains.
Growing up in the Goldfields, Greg had little Noongar connection as he was away from his family. Upon moving back to Perth, he reconnected with his family and spent many years learning about his family culture. He views the METRONET Noongar Reference Group as a strong opportunity for Noongar people to provide input.
“I want to bring awareness to the Noongar Language through METRONET as I see it as a good opportunity for Noongar people to be listened to. Increased involvement in projects will have a positive effect on the Noongar community for years to come,” he said.
In his professional career, Greg has held many different roles from a truck driver to a station manager in the Coonana community. He is also the author of two books and sits on the cultural advice committee on the Whadjuk working party, which nominated him to be part of the METRONET Noongar Reference Group.
Growing up next to the rail line for most of her life, Doreen Nelson has always had an interest in trains and keenly shares the experience and knowledge she holds in this space through her involvement in the METRONET Noongar Reference Group.
“I’ve always tried to write my story for future generations. I really enjoy working with the METRONET Noongar Reference Group and having input into the design and sharing history and culture,” Doreen explains.
Each member brings a unique set of experiences and background to the Group. Doreen was born in Ballardong country in the south-west area of WA, and explains how valuable it is to share her experiences as well as those of other Aboriginal peoples.
“My background enables me to perform Welcome to Country ceremonies and as an aboriginal person, I have the knowledge and cultural experience that will benefit future generations,” she said.
A champion for Aboriginal people, Doreen is a chairperson for Mooditj Koort Aboriginal Health Association, part of the Aboriginal elder’s advisory group for Murdoch University, a member of the advisory committee for the City of Rockingham and sits on the Whadjuk Cultural Advice Committee.
Doreen is passionate about sharing her story for future generations was involved in publishing books about birthing practices through Aboriginal mothers, which includes her life story.
She enjoys providing advice and cultural input into METRONET projects and looks forward to seeing how the design of stations and project precincts showcase aboriginal stories and culture.
“The METRONET Noongar Reference Group is an opportunity for Noongar people to tell the story of their journey and have a voice,” Lera Bennell explains.
“We’re involved in the decision-making processes for storytelling, naming, language, art and design for each new station. I believe the METRONET Noongar Reference Group has a strong, honest voice and we’ve made changes that are creating respect for truth, acknowledgment, history and heritage – and a better understanding between Noongar and non-Aboriginal people.”
Lera was nominated as a representative of the Gnaala Karla Booja working party and joined the METRONET Noongar Reference Group to make a difference to the ways of working with State Government.
Passionate about building a better future for her mob, creating economic opportunities and leaving a legacy comes from travelling and growing up in Wilman, Wadandi and Whadjuk Country.
Lera went to 11 schools in her younger years and as a teenager, received a scholarship to Perth Modern, which started her journey in Perth.
Lera worked and studied across Australia, completing a Bachelor of Applied Science Aboriginal Community Management and Development at Curtin University and a Master of Arts in Indigenous Social Policy at the University of Technology in Sydney. Following this, she joined the Gnaala Karla Booja working party and was elected a member of the Kaata-Wangkinyiny Regional Council from 1997 to 1999 and was a member of a variety of Aboriginal corporations in Albany, Bunbury and Boddington.
Shaped by her education and travels, Lera has a robust belief in education and strong values.
“My upbringing and cultural beliefs from my family shaped me and taught me to believe in myself and to fight for my people,” she explains.
Lera is proud to be a member of the METRONET Noongar Reference Group and enjoys providing cultural input into the METRONET Program.
“We have a strong, honest voice and are making history for our people on the railways.”
Aunty Marion joined the METRONET Noongar Reference Group after being chosen as a representative from the Whadjuk Working Party.
She is a proud member of the Group with family links with the railways through her Aunty who worked her days as a railway cleaner from Perth to East Perth Station; and her father who worked on the railways in regional Western Australia.
Born in Perth, and one of the Stolen Generation fostered out from a young age, Aunty Marion studied Alcohol and Drug Addiction and Aboriginal Medicine at university.
She enjoys having cultural input into the METRONET Program and has learnt a great deal through her involvement in the group.