Reconciliation Australia endorses RIA’s fourth Reconciliation Action Plan
Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) has released its fourth Reconciliation Action Plan to increase the voice and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the management of the Island (Wadjemup).The 2021-23 plan, endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, outlines RIA’s reconciliation journey with a focus on increasing Aboriginal and Torres strait employment opportunities and strengthening our relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
RIA’s vision for reconciliation is to build respectful, trusting and equitable relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The vision also includes RIA staff and visitors to the Island celebrating Whadjuk Noongar people as the Traditional Owners of Wadjemup and appreciating the historical and contemporary significance of the Island as a unique and irreplaceable cultural landscape.
The plan includes a public apology from RIA for the pain and anguish within Aboriginal communities that resulted from the authority’s historical role in the concealment of the history of the Island as a place of incarceration.
The apology also acknowledges that many past practices of those entrusted with management of the Island were not respectful of Aboriginal peoples or the cultural significance of the Island. Rottnest Island Authority was established in 1987 as the statutory authority vested with the management of recreational and holiday facilities on the Island.
Rottnest was used as an Aboriginal prison between 1838-1904, and as a forced labour camp for Aboriginal prisoners until 1931. About 4,000 Aboriginal men and boys from Western Australia were imprisoned on the Island. At least 373 of these prisoners died in custody and were buried in an area currently referred to as the Wadjemup Aboriginal Burial Ground.
The release of the plan coincided with the 15th edition of the Wadjemup Cup football tournament on the Island contested by 120 players from Clontarf academies across Western Australia.
Action from the 2021 Wadjemup Cup held on Rottnest Island on 6 November.