The ACT Government is seeking Expressions of Interest from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations interested in contributing to the future of Boomanulla Oval, which has been closed since December 2014.
The Narrabundah oval was a sporting and cultural centre for Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, particularly those of the Ngunnawal, Ngambri and Wiradjuri peoples, for 30 years.
It closed in November 2014 when its then operator, the Aboriginal Corporation for Sporting and Recreational Activities, was placed under special administration. The oval was closed briefly in 2011 when Boomanulla Corporation lost its Federal Government funding (previously in place annually since 1984).
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At that time, then Sports Minister Andrew Barr said the ACT Government was not in a position to step in and fund the organization, but the Oval reopened after a meeting between the board of Boomanulla and state and Federal government departments.
In a joint statement today, ACT Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Chris Bourke and ACT Minister for Sport and Recreation Yvette Berry said they were seeking a new management organisation that would be passionate about the prosperity of the oval, and committed to managing Boomanulla as a facility that the community could use for a range of activities.
RiotACT has asked a spokesperson for Ms Berry whether the ACT Government will be providing funding for the reopening and operation of the Oval and its programs and expects to hear back mid-afternoon.
Tender documents are here. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations or service providers that believe they have the experience, capability and the potential to play a role in the revitalisation and reopening of Boomanulla Oval are encouraged to submit an Expression of Interest by April 14.
The Ministers said they had been working closely with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body, as well as a specially appointed interim advisory group who had provided advice and guidance to government on the future use and vision for Boomanulla.
“Last year we also invited the community to share their views about Boomanulla Oval and what it should and could be,” the Ministers said.
“We heard from over 150 individuals during the consultation process, and from this survey we have been able to determine how new management could continue to meet the needs and expectations of the local community who so value this facility.”
The pair said they were very aware of the significance of the oval, and committed to reopening it as soon as possible.
“Boomanulla Oval is much-loved and widely used by our Indigenous sporting teams and athletes as a place to train and play, as well as by the broader community for cultural activities and education and training opportunities,” they said.
“We want to hear from organsiations that are committed to engaging with the Indigenous community to preserve their connections to the site, and to ensure that Boomanulla reaches its full potential to meet the needs of the community.”
Photo: ACT Government Economic Development website (the numbers refer to blocks adjacent to the oval and up for possible rezoning and redevelopment in a separate proposal.)