IMG_1850After many years of patience and persistence, significant works have commenced at the Wadjemup (Rottnest) Aboriginal Burial Ground.

Over three months (mid Aug- mid Nov 2015), the Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) implemented works associated with Phase 1 of the conservation of this site.

An Aboriginal company, Indigenous Economic Solutions (IES) was awarded the contract to _DSC5815construct an 880m long pathway around the Burial Ground to delineate the boundary and help protect the site. IES also installed a series of stabilised rammed earth entry walls.

A group of young Whadjuk men with the support of Elders were able to combine construction skills and _DSC5832traditional knowledge to protect the site in a culturally appropriate manner.

The grea_DSC5896test success of this project has been the overwhelming sense of pride achieved by the Traditional Owners directly involved with the project, who were able to manage a significant cultural site by working directly on Country.

Daily smoking ceremonies were conducted to maintain cultural wellbeing and new skills were learnt by all who worked on the project.

Phase 1 also included the demolition of the camp ablution block and maintenance shed that were IMG_1886intruding on the site. Programmed Facility Management (PFM), the current maintenance and services contractor on the Island, have been an active team member on this project and assisted by removing all the disused services of street lights and electrical domes.

The pathway and rammed earth entry walls is the first part of a three-phase project to show respect to and make accessible, information about the history of Rottnest Island/Wadjemup and in particular the burial ground.

_DSC5853To celebrate the completion of Phase 1, Indigenous Economic Solutions invited Rottnest Island Authority, Programmed Facility Management and Rottnest Foundation representatives, as well as the friends and family of the team of Whadjuk men to a special ceremony on Friday 20th November 2015 to say thank you to the spirits for an accident free project and for giving them cultural and spiritual support.

_DSC5850Karen Jacobs, a Whadjuk woman and Managing Director of IES (Indigenous Economic Solutions) was full of praise for the young men who worked on Phase 1 of the project.

Karen had chosen a team of young Whadjuk men carefully; ensuring cultural protocols were followed at all times.

_DSC5885Before the team members could come onto the Island, they had to seek permission from their elders, a number of whom came onto the Island for a site visit while the project was under way.

As well as learning construction and landscaping skills, a number of culturally appropriate activities gave the young men the chance to learn more about the history of the Island and their own culture.

The day included a celebratory barbecue and a smoking ceremony in the burial ground to clear away bad spirits.

The West Australian, Friday December 4th 2015- ‘Progress on Island Burial Ground’

Trust News Australia- February 2016- Article- Grounds for Reconciliation on Wadjemup