Indigenous heritage protected


A corroboree site at the Denmark River has been protected under a management plan passed at a Denmark Shire council meeting last week after extensive community consultation.

Picture by Laurie Benson: Denmark shire project manager Cindy Simpson and ancestor of the traditional owners of the site, Joe Williams, at the Kwoorabup Beeliaor Denmark River.

The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the southern section of Kwoorabup Beelia (Denmark River) sets out ways to protect and manage the indigenous heritage values of the area.

Denmark Shire worked with the Department of Indigenous Affairs to form the plan, written by project manager Cindy Simpson.

Applied Archaeology consultant David Guilfoyle was hired to consult with the community, landholders, Green Skills and the Department of Water.

Noongar community members identified the ceremonial site as a protection priority.

The Kwoorabup Beelia and ceremonial site has been used by Noongar people for more than 10,000 years as a place of dance, song, ceremony, marriage% preparation, initiation and food gathering.

Ancestor of the site’s traditional owners, Joe Williams, consulted for the management plan, and said the site could go back to being a gathering place.

“In the past the ground has been driven over and abused – people would drive through sacred ground,” he said.

“I hope it will be used as a cultural interpretive ground, we could have some workshops there.”

Deputy shire president Ken Richardson-Newton said its implementation was positive.

“The recognition of the river in Aboriginal heritage and European heritage, I think it’s relevant to all people in the community,”% he said.

Executing the plan will mean any building or activities that take place on the Denmark River or 30m buffer zone will require approval by local Noongar groups.

“In the past, we have put our infrastructure in without a great deal of consultation or even acknowledgment of the traditional owners of the land,” he said.

“I think that’s one of the great things that will change and I think our attitude to what happens along the river and its banks.”

Department of Indigenous Affairs project officer Harley Coyne said the management plan will improve engagement with Aboriginal people.

“It will add another level of consultation to the shire’s operation and a far more effective one,” he said.

“These documents are really important because it guides local government, educates people, creates awareness and facilitates better management practice.”

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