Western Australia’s first Aboriginal non-government rural support centre has been recognised through the building’s entry in the State Heritage Register.
Heritage Minister John Castrilli said the former Gnowangerup Noongar Centre, established in 1972, became a model for other Aboriginal support services.
The centre was established by the New Era Aboriginal Fellowship (NEAF), a prominent movement for Aboriginal equality and empowerment founded in the wake of the 1967 referendum acknowledging full citizenship for indigenous Australians.
“NEAF’s vision was to employ Aboriginal people to provide social services to their community, with a view to ultimately handing the project over entirely to Aboriginal management,” Mr Castrilli said.
NEAF members involved in the Gnowangerup project, who have since been recognised for their social contributions, include Dr Fiona Stanley, Dr Roger Dawkins, Robert French, Kim Beazley Jnr, Fred Chaney Jnr, Ken Colbung, Peter Farmer, Bernie and Winnie McHenry, Richard Wilkes and Aden Eades.
The centre operated out of a 1913 former bishop’s residence and was the headquarters of the Gnowangerup Noongar Corporation until 1989.
“As we celebrate National Reconciliation Week, this modest building is a physical reminder of how Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people worked together to bring about fundamental change,” the Minister said.
Currently known as the Gnowangerup Cultural Heritage Centre, the building is being converted into a heritage museum and Noongar ‘keeping place’ housing Aboriginal memorabilia, photographs, artwork and cultural artefacts associated with local Noongar heritage and the Gnowangerup Mission.
Minister’s office - 6552 6600