Progress made to recognise the history of Aboriginal people on Rottnest Island

Posted: June 10th, 2020

YMAC welcomes the formation of a Whadjuk Noongar Cultural Authority to reconcile the history of Aboriginal people’s imprisonment at Rottnest Island. The group will lead the State-wide Aboriginal engagement on how best to commemorate the Aboriginal men and boys who are buried on the island, and the use of the old prison building at the historic Thomson Bay settlement known as the Quod.

The Wadjemup Project, named after the Noongar name for Rottnest Island, will be one of Australia’s first large-scale and genuine acts of recognition related to the impacts of colonisation on Aboriginal people.

Rottnest Island was used as a place of incarceration, segregation and forced labour for Aboriginal men and boys from across Western Australia from 1838 to 1931. More than 4,000 Aboriginal people from all over WA – including a significant number from the Pilbara, Mid West and Gascoyne  – were forcibly taken there. Almost 400 men and boys, who died while imprisoned, were buried in unmarked graves on the Island.

The Whadjuk Noongar people are putting in place cultural authority protocols to lead engagement with other Noongar and Aboriginal people across WA.

To view the State Government’s media release click here.