19 March 2021

Indigenous community to breathe new life into Yarramundi Cultural Centre

| Ian Bushnell
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The Yarramundi Cultural Centre

The Yarramundi Cultural Centre is set to become a more prominent facility for Indigenous culture. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Plans to convert the Yarramundi Cultural Centre by Lake Burley Griffin into a more permanent and community-run base for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and enterprises are moving ahead.

Sydney-based Aboriginal-owned consultancy Thirriwirri will assist the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body and the community to develop a range of uses for the centre and a central role for it in representing Indigenous culture.

At present, the centre at Yarramundi Reach is managed by the ACT Government. It houses an art gallery run by an Aboriginal corporation that has been a long-term tenant, and a hall and meeting space that is used from time to time by government and individual organisations.

Chair of the Elected Body Katrina Fanning said the community-driven process would help determine what governance the facility needs and what options for cultural, heritage and tourism activities, as well as social and business enterprises, would fit.

Ms Fanning said the process was about being realistic about the centre’s potential and not just presenting a wish list.

“We’ve got some great cultural tourism operators we’d like to be able to give more of a home base to,” she said.

“There’s not really a place in Canberra that holds Ngunnawal specific artefacts, and they’re really keen for some sort of permanent space where visitors can come and find out more about the local history as well.

“The ability for dance and art and those sort of things to be more permanent opportunities out of the site would be a great outcome.”

Katrina Fanning

Katrina Fanning: “We want it to have a more consistent life on a day to day basis in the culture of the city.” Photo: File.

Ms Fanning said use of the site at present was fractured.

“We want it to have a more consistent life on a day-to-day basis in the culture of the city and to share that really historical link to this place,” she said.

She said it was a great asset and the aim was to fully realise its potential. That included plugging into the visitor traffic of the nearby National Arboretum, possibly running immersive activities where people could connect with Aboriginal culture.

She said that because the centre was on Ngunnawal country, it would need quite a distinct representation in management and content.

Any new management would also need to work with the National Capital Authority if it wanted to expand the centre’s facilities or provide parking for coaches.

Ms Fanning said delivering on a commitment of growing more community-controlled organisations and opportunities for service providers or businesses had been a key focus for the Elected Body.

“We think there is more than enough talent in the community; we just have to create the right opportunity for them to shine,” she said.

Thirriwirri is expected to produce a final report by 22 May.

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