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Perth Airport Working With Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Elders

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Perth Airport this week hosted an historic partnership agreement signing ceremony with the Traditional Owners of the land on which Perth Airport is located.

The ceremony, officiated by Hon. Dr Kim Hames MLA, Western Australia’s Deputy Premier; Minister for Health & Minister for Indigenous Affairs included a Welcome to Country by a local elder, along with traditional dancers and a didgeridoo player.

The agreement brings Perth Airport together with the Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Elders.

Under the agreement, the Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Elders commit to active engagement and participation in Perth Airport’s decision making and will provide land management expertise to assist in land management activities.

Local Noongar experts will also assist with cultural education. A steering committee, on which Noongar representatives will sit, will be established and will be responsible for directing the use of grants and sponsorships provided by Perth Airport to benefit the local Aboriginal community.

An annual schedule of events to celebrate and enhance awareness of Aboriginal heritage and culture at Perth Airport will also be developed and will include tertiary scholarships to the value of A$5,000 per year for three years along with an investment of A$20,000 to sponsor projects to benefit the local community.

Perth Airport CEO Brad Geatches said. “Perth Airport and the Aboriginal Elders have made significant contributions to working forums, which has lead to an agreement which has been built upon trust and closely reflects Perth Airport’s corporate objectives and values. The signing of this document is not a culmination of this work, but rather the start of a new chapter that I’m sure all those involved are proud of.”

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs echoed Mr Geatches comments, “This commitment represents the best of reconciliation initiatives and is an action of respect and of desire to pursue a shared path.”

Throughout NAIDOC Week 2009, Perth Airport is also handing out commemorative postcards to arriving international passengers which explain the importance of the Perth Airport land to the local Aboriginal people.

The Noongar people are the traditional owners of the land where Perth Airport is situated. Prior to European settlement the land at Perth Airport was an important place in the lives of the Noongar people. According to local elders, the proximity to the Swan River and the system of wetlands around the Munday Swamp provided important sources of food. The area is acknowledged as an important meeting place and continues to have spiritual and archaeological significance.

 Perth Airport has set aside more than 300 hectares of airport land for preservation and conservation. This area includes a number of important Aboriginal sites, including Munday Swamp.

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