The Morrison Government have announced the building of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural precinct on Ngunnawal country, which is to be named Ngurra.
Ngurra will sit on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in the Parliamentary Triangle.
Ngurra – meaning ‘home’, ‘country’ or ‘place of belonging’, will include learning facilities and a national resting place to care for Indigenous ancestral remains as well providing the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) a new home.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “Ngurra is the realisation of a long-held desire to have a home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories at the heart of our nation.”
The Prime Minister noted that the $316.5 million precinct will hold a premier place within the parliamentary triangle as a prideful and significant place for Australia.
Prime Minister Morrison labelled Ngurra a “national landmark of the highest order, standing proudly for us all to celebrate, educate, reflect and commemorate.”
“It will be built in Commonwealth Place, on the primary axis in the Parliamentary Triangle – between Old Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial, demonstrating the importance and reverence this institution should hold.”
Morrison assured that the precinct will be built in accordance with AIATSIS’ proposal that was presented to Government for approval through “their consultation processes.”
He hoped that all visitors would be able to utilise the cultural precinct “to gain a deeper appreciation” of the diversity and culture of Indigenous peoples.
The Prime Minister said the “world-class facility will contribute to our continuing journey of reconciliation”.
The facility will allow for storytelling in the way Indigenous Australians want so that all visitors can “have a greater understanding of our shared history.”
Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt commented that “At its heart will be a national resting place where the remains of Indigenous Australians taken from their country will be cared for until they are able to be returned to their communities,”
“And in instances where provenance has been forgotten or erased, they will be cared for in perpetuity with dignity and respect.”
Minister Wyatt said the learning and engagement, exhibitions, research and curation that is set to happen at Ngurra will be significant acts of truth-telling.
The precinct will also “make accessible the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and heritage items.”
Minister Wyatt concluded that the precinct will deliver “a new perspective on our shared history, as a significant moment for truth-telling,
“and a new place where the diversity of Indigenous Australia and one of the world’s oldest living cultures will be celebrated.”
The Government announced that an architectural design competition will be run later this year to develop a design that fits the location and reflects the aspirations and achievements of, as well as connection to Country held by First Nations’ People.
By Aaron Bloch