465D7946For the first time in the Island’s history, Rottnest Island Authority participated in National Reconciliation Week and an opening ceremony was held on Rottnest Island (Wadjemup) Saturday 27 May to commemorate the start of the week. More than 200 people gathered on Rottnest Island for the event.

PapaliaThe day began with a smoking ceremony on the sand at North Thomson Bay and an official ‘Welcome to Country’ was conducted by Walter McGuire.

Formalities were then held at Hotel Rottnest, including speeches from the Minister for Tourism and Multicultural Interests Hon. Paul Papalia, Rottnest Island Authority CEO Michelle Reynolds, RIA Wadjemup Aboriginal Reference Group Member Lindsay Dean and Reconciliation WA Co-Chair Carol Innes.

National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to reflect on our shared histories and, in particular, on the contributions and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. year, National Reconciliation Week M Reynoldshad particular resonance because it coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Australian Referendum and the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision.

Holding this event on Rottnest Island as part of National Reconciliation Week was a major step forward in acknowledging and recognising the role that the Island played in the history of WA when it was used as an Aboriginal Penal Settlement 1838-1904 and provided an opportunity to pay respect to the Aboriginal men and boys that remain interred on the Island at the site known as the Wadjemup Aboriginal Burial Ground.

Rottnest Foundation Chairman Jeff King, Rottnest Foundation Board Member Monica Radomiljac and Lindsay DeanRottnest Foundation Staff Member Rosalie Small, participated in this event, and it was great to see that all attendees were positive about moving forward together with reconciliation.

Rottnest Island Authority offered guided Aboriginal Heritage Tours to guests and an Aboriginal Art Exhibition was held at the Salt Store to help commemorate the event.

The Rottnest Foundation is working in partnership with Lotterywest, the Rottnest Island Authority and the Aboriginal Community to correctly acknowledge the Aboriginal Burial Ground through landscaping, conservation and appropriate interpretation. More information can be found here