The Town of Victoria Park acknowledges the vast and diverse population who live, work and enjoy life in the Town.
Aboriginal people have, and always will be, the original custodians of the land which the Town of Victoria Park is on.
Aboriginal History of Victoria Park
Before the Town of Victoria Park came to be named, the original inhabitants of the land were the Noongar people who have inhabited the south-west of Western Australia for over 50,000 years. Noongar means “a person of the south-west of Australia” or it is used as a name for “the original inhabitants of the south-west of Australia”. Using the word Noongar will describe a large population across WA (one of the largest Aboriginal cultural groups in Australia), as there are many dialectical groups within the Noongar nation. The particular language group in the area of the Town of Victoria Park is known as Whadjuk.
The Whadjuk people have held a close connection to the land which the Town of Victoria Park resides, from the original mud flats along the Swan river, down the foreshore towards Ellam St, north to Burswood, and east to the suburb of St James.
The area along the Swan river holds much significance to Whadjuk people. The northern part of Burswood is known as Wardoolier, which was inhabited until the 1920s by Whadjuk and other Aboriginal people who would travel from far north and spend time at this place.
Moving south along the foreshore of the Swan river towards the causeway, a stop at McCallum Park will give a view of Heirisson Island, the birthplace of prominent Whadjuk woman Fanny Balbuk. The land on which McCallum Park is on, is known as Joorolup (Place of the Jarrahs). It is known that this place was used as a campsite by Whadjuk people from the 1850s.
We are still discovering local history of the land which we call the Town of Victoria Park, and invite community members to share their stories and histories with the Town.
The Town of Victoria Park established an Aboriginal Engagement and Advisory Group (AESG) in 2013 to build relationships and respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people and other Australians. This group informs and advises the Town on ways in which we work together to identify opportunities that meet individual and shared aspirations, drive equality and build sustainability in our local community.
Our AEAG was instrumental in delivering the WA Photo Reconciliation and Know Your Nation projects in Victoria Park, to acknowledge and celebrate ATSI and other cultures.
There is no reconciliation without acknowledging the mistakes of the past. It is with genuine reflection and ownership of the role that colonisers played in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who came before us, that allow us to build respectful relationships and opportunities for an engaged and empowered community.
This Reflect Action Plan (RAP) was drafted in consultation with the Town’s Aboriginal Engagement Advisory Group and outlines strategies to foster greater awareness and learning between members of our wider community and Aboriginal people. The process is a journey for the long-term, towards a shared future.
We produced a video to document the journey taken to develop our Reflect RAP.
The Town of Victoria Park understands that Noongar and Whadjuk culture are part of the Town's identity, and will continue to make efforts to recognise the original custodians of the land.
Reconciliation is an important part of the educational journey for an inclusive community. A great way to establish an inclusive community is to understand and respect certain cultural protocols.
It is the right of Noongar people to protect culture, and as such, all displays and reproductions of culturally significant information and representation must be discussed in consultation with Noongar leaders and/or relevant cultural groups (i.e. photos, video, text, and artworks by Noongar people or what can be perceived as).
A Welcome to Country ceremony is described by the South West Aboriginal Land & Sea Council as an: “acknowledgment and recognition of the rights of Noongar people’s traditional country”.
This ceremony is the act of having the attendance of an appropriate Noongar leader to acknowledge the rights of Noongar people and to formally welcome people to their land.
There are different ways in which this is provided by the Noongar leader, whether it be through the offering of cultural and historical information, stories, and song.
While there are no exact rules for when to have a Noongar leader present to deliver Welcome to Country, endeavouring to invite a Noongar leader to the opening of events and large gatherings is highly recommended. Ultimately, it will be up to the Whadjuk leader to decide if Welcome to Country is needed.
For information on Welcome to Country, or to get in contact with a Whadjuk leader, please contact the Town of Victoria Park.
If it is not possible for a Whadjuk leader to conduct a Welcome to Country ceremony, at the very least an Acknowledgement of Country is to be communicated by the leader of the group in which you belong to.
An Acknowledgement of Country is a statement for non-Aboriginal people to show respect and understanding of Noongar people, their connection to the land on which you are using, and how that connection and relationship with the land still exists today.
Usually, the leader of a small community group, (chairperson of a meeting, principal speaker of a forum, opening address at a council gathering), communicates a statement prior to the event proceeding. This statement acknowledges, publicly, that the meeting/event is taking place on Whadjuk land, and that Whadjuk people are the traditional custodian of the land.
The Town of Victoria Park and the local Aboriginal Engagement Advisory Group recommend the usage of the following Acknowledgement of Country statements at all community meetings and gatherings.
I am not a Noongar
woman/man, I am a non-Indigenous woman/man. I am honoured to be standing on Whadjuk - Noongar
country on the banks of the Swan River.
I acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and respect past, present and emerging Leaders, their continuing cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land, which continues to be important today.
I thank them for the contribution made to life in the Town of Victoria Park and to this region.
I acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, the Whadjuk Noongars from the Noongar
nation and pay my respects to past, present and emerging leaders, their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with this land which still continues today.
I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, the Whadjuk Noongars from the Noongar
nation of Australia and pay my respects to past, present and emerging leaders.
Note alternative spellings:
The Town of Victoria Park produced a short video to highlight the 2018 NAIDOC theme ‘Our Languages Matter’ and connect with emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in the Town of Victoria Park.
It shows that the resurgence of language and connection to culture is something being embraced by our younger generations and makes a case for more support from elders, the community and the Australian education system.
This project involved collaboration between the Town’s community engagement team, the Aboriginal Engagement Strategy group, Millen Primary School, Curtin University, and Kent Street Senior High School working with documentary producer Rich Humphreys.
This project featured portrait photographs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Aboriginal partners across the community, proclaiming their shared belief in Reconciliation. Participation came from a wide range of community areas, profiling partners in sport, politics, music, art and education.
The Mayor of the Town of Victoria Park, Trevor Vaughan, was a participant and said “I am happy to be part of a project that profiles the many positive and significant contributions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make in our community, and how with respect and collaboration, we all share equally in the benefits that this brings.”
In celebration of NAIDOC Week, the Town’s Aboriginal Engagement Engagement Advisory Group partnered with RUAH Community Services, Victoria Park Centre for the Arts, Richmond Wellbeing and start-up enterprise Know Your Nation, to deliver a program of story-telling and exhibitions.
The project invited older community members from the many different cultures that make up our Town, to share and record the stories and anecdotes of their past, across the generations.
A photographer captured participants on the day, where they will receive a copy of the full audio and photo taken during their session, for their families to keep and treasure. A copy of the audio will also be offered to the Victoria Park Library’s Local History Collection, and the State Library of WA. Phase Two of the program involved an exhibition with posters and audio capture at the Victoria Park Centre for the Arts and is available on line through Know Your Nation website.
“Storytelling is such an important part of Aboriginal culture, preserving, and passing on knowledge, experience and history,” said Deputy Mayor Brian Oliver.
“We learn a lot through listening to other people’s stories, whilst validating the life and wisdom of older generations through this process. This program is for everyone. Every story holds value, no matter how trivial you think it might be. We thank you for helping us make history.”