NAIDOC Week 2019's theme is 'Voice. Treaty. Truth.'
This theme acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always wanted an enhanced role in decision-making in Australia’s democracy.
This year is also being celebrated as the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, as a time for Aboriginal knowledge to be heard through Aboriginal voice.
As the METRONET Aboriginal Engagement Coordinator and Noongar man Mark Bateman shares, the past can’t be changed, but it can be acknowledged
“From today and every day going forward, we can commit to creating an atmosphere of collaboration, understanding and a genuine willingness to deliver positive change that provides opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people” he said.
The METRONET projects are being delivered on land within the Whadjuk and Gnaala Karla Booja Indigenous Land Use Agreement areas. Because of this the team has been working to implement the Gnarla Biddi Strategy with Noongar custodians, to listen to Aboriginal knowledge and stories through local Aboriginal voices.
One of the ways METRONET aims to do this is through the Noongar Cultural Input into Place Making engagement stream. In collecting shared stories about each place that projects will be built in, we can help to ensure Noongar stories and culture is represented in the infrastructure that is designed and built as part of the METRONET program.
This work has helped us to understand a few stories associated with the land we are working on:
- The Bayswater project is located in an area referred to by Noongar people as Beeralain. This area, being located up land near the banks of the Swan River (Derbal Yerrigan), was identified as an important place for traditional Noongar Camps with abundant food, water and shelter – a good place to spend the summer months on higher ground.
- The Claremont (or Beereegup) and Yanchep (the area known as Mooroo) METRONET projects are miles apart, however there is a strong cultural link between these two project areas. Beereegup is a highly significant camp with a strong creation story, linked to Yanchep that is named after Yanget a Noongar name for a native flax or bullrush.
- The Helena River, or Mandoon, which is a Noongar word for ‘place of many trees’ has a strong Noongar link to our Midland project sites. The area sees the joining of Derbal Yerrigan and Mandoon - an area understood to be an important meeting place and ancient Corroboree ground, with many campsites and spiritual sites, some still used by Noongar people today.
Noongar Custodian Geri Hayden, shared:
"Noongar people are special. They are the first astronomers, scientists, botanists, conservationists, care-takers, designers, farmers and builders. This was the [Indigenous] lifestyle for thousands of years."
Noongar Custodian Doreen Nelson shared:
"It’s part of our culture, sharing unna."