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New research project to help close cultural gap

Media release

A new Curtin University research project that aims to close the cultural gap will identify the Nyungar names of 30,000 places in the South-West of Western Australia.

The project, conducted by the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSP) assisted by an advisory committee will document the history and meaning of every place in the region.

Len Collard, key researcher and Associate Professor at CUSP said the project aims to contribute towards reconciliation from a different perspective, by creating a common ground for understanding the local Indigenous geographical heritage.

“The project is the first of its kind and will go a long way towards deepening everyone’s sense of place,” Associate Professor Collard said.

“It will explore the ways in which Indigenous interpretation of place and history trigger innovative approaches to the nature of sovereignty, identity and difference.

“The research will enable people who live in the region to relate more intensely to that place’s long term history.

“It will also help residents realise they are part of a special environment, a land that has sustained people for more than 50,000 years and a place to belong to with an identity shaped by this history.”

The project will meet a range of national economic, social and environmental benefits.

“The research will enable new tourist ventures that will emerge based on the stories of the lands,” he said.

“It will provide communities with a physical basis to work on reconciliation and help close the cultural and health gap and provide a stronger motivation for protecting the natural and built heritage of the area.”

An interactive website and database will make the material available to anyone and each area of the South-West will be encouraged to use their Nyungar places names together with their Anglo Saxon names.

The project, funded by the Australian Research Council, is due to be completed by 2013.