Extra place for Whadjuk

ONE extra spot for a Whadjuk Noongar will be added to Perth city council’s cultural advisory committee.

Historically the PCC hasn’t had the best scoresheet when it comes to Aboriginal issues and hopes a second position on the committee can help turn that around.

In the past the city’s art collection has been criticised for being too white, and relations with some families in the Noongar community were frayed during the Matagarup/Heirisson Island protests, peaking when rangers confiscated a sacred stone.

• Barbara Bynder. Photo by Wonu Veys via Country Arts WA

The city defended the rangers saying they didn’t realise its significance thinking it just a pointy rock that might be dangerous.

The PCC’s new Cultural Development Plan 2019-2029 acknowledges Aboriginal culture has been “inadequately recognised, promoted and celebrated” and calls for “meaningful relationships and partnerships” with the Aboriginal community.


The new 10-person cultural committee was formed to usher in the goals of the plan and keep the council advised on cultural issues.

But an elders’ group that advises the city said the committee needed one yorga and one maaman—a woman and a man—to properly represent the community, and they should be Whadjuk Noongar for a local perspective.

PCC staff have redrawn the CAC’s terms of reference to provide those two spots, making it an 11-person committee.

• Noel Nannup from his film about science and lore Walking Together—Belonging to Country, with Stephen Hopper.

A selection panel has recommended Barbara Bynder as the yorga representative, and suggested either Richard Walley or Noel Nannup could be the maaman.

Ms Bynder is a Whadjuk Ballardong Noongar yorga researcher and artist. Dr Walley is a performer and writer who’s shared Noongar culture around the world, and Dr Nannup is a storyteller and cultural guide who’s studied the links between Aboriginal lore and modern science.

Apart from Aboriginal topics the committee has a broad remit, advising on arts and heritage (it will partly replace Heritage Perth, after that independent body was defunded by commissioners earlier this year).

• Richard Walley. Photo via aboriginalproductions.com.au

The other shortlisted committee members for the remaining nine spots are Chamber of Culture and Arts executive director Shelagh Magadza, WA Museum CEO Alec Coles, National Trust CEO Julian Donaldson, Jade Balfour from the state government’s cultural department, urban designer and artist Peter Ciemitis, Aboriginal Arts Centre Hub CEO Chad Creighton (also a Bardi and Nyul Nyul man from the Kimberley region), the Museum of Freedom and Tolerance CEO Shaheen Hughes, Perth Festival’s Gemma Weston, and History Council heritage advisor Helen Munt.  PCC commissioners vote on the lineup September 24.


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