An innovative learning space set in WA’s Noongar bushland has taken a significant step forward, with Curtin University and Gondwana Link partnering to deliver learning opportunities about Noongar culture, language and history.
The Statement of Intent, which was signed today at Nowanup, a 750ha property located about 150km north-east of Albany, formalises the bush learning concept, which was initiated by Nowanup Noongar Elder Mr Eugene Eades, Curtin’s Elder-in-Residence Professor Simon Forrest, and Gondwana Link Chief Executive Officer Mr Keith Bradby.
The Statement of Intent signing followed a traditional bush meeting held on Noongar Boodja (country) between Elders, Curtin’s senior executive team and Gondwana Link representatives.
Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry welcomed the development, which combines education with Indigenous culture and history.
“This is an important milestone as Curtin and Gondwana Link agree to work together to develop a transformational learning experience that recognises the wisdom of Noongar learning and teaching methods and is delivered within a bush setting,” Professor Terry said.
Mr Bradby said Gondwana Link was delighted to see the partnership forged at Nowanup today.
“I congratulate Curtin for being proactive in its reconciliation program. We look forward to the new Nowanup partnership building wider support for the Noongar culture of the land we live and work on,” Mr Bradby said.
“I also thank Greening Australia, owners of the Nowanup property, for the support they have given Eugene in the development of his cultural program over the past decade.”
Professor Forrest, Curtin’s Elder-in-Residence, said the Statement of Intent would guide on-country education programs for Curtin staff and students at Nowanup, as well as the development of a Noongar teaching framework.
“I am proud to see this innovative learning concept coming to life and look forward to the many benefits it will bring for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, by helping to ensure Noongar culture and history continues to be taught for generations to come,” Professor Forrest said.
In recognition of his role in the initiative, Mr Eades, who has been operating Nowanup since 2007 as a cultural knowledge camp, an alternative to detention for young Indigenous people and with a focus on improving cultural management of the region, has been appointed an Adjunct Associate Professor at Curtin University.
Mr Eades said the Statement of Intent signing marked an important step towards a vision he had held for Nowanup for many years, thanking his Elders for their support throughout the process.
“We are building a foundation that will stand the test of time, ensuring our precious Noongar culture and history lives on,” Mr Eades said.
“My Elders have guided and mentored me, walked and talked, and laughed and cried alongside me for the last 12 years and it really is an incredible feeling to know that a lost spirituality is being restored to the fullest through the Nowanup partnership.
“There is nothing like this anywhere else and I feel honoured to be able to share Nowanup’s spirituality and energy with students and visitors to heal both the land and the people by taking this unique experience to the world so the world can become a better place.”
In a symbolic gesture of the links between Nowanup and Curtin’s Bentley Campus, plans are also underway to develop a Nidja Kaal Kaatajininy Waangkiny (Learning Yarning Fire Place) in Bentley.
The Statement of Intent, signed by Professor Terry, Professor Forrest, Mr Bradby and Mr Eades today, is a key component of Curtin University’s Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which is in the final stages of development to provide a strong platform for Curtin’s continued contribution to reconciliation in the wider community.