New Study Center to Support Renaissance for Australia’s Wiradjuri People

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New Study Center to Support Renaissance for Australia’s Wiradjuri People

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Monday, February 27, 2012 - 2:30pm

After years of planning and construction, the Wiradjuri Study Center opened its doors on September 27 in a formal ceremony attended by a number of dignitaries, including Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, the Honorable Kevin Rudd.

The Center’s opening is a major milestone in what has been no less than a cultural and economic renaissance for the Wiradjuri people living near Barrick’s Cowal mine in New South Wales.

Located in the town of Condobolin near Cowal, the Center will serve as a gathering place where the Wiradjuri can rediscover and share their rich cultural heritage, and work together with local Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to develop a community driven by mutual respect and understanding.

The Center will offer activities about the Wiradjuri’s history and heritage, as well as skills training programs accredited by a number of local post-secondary institutions. The Center will also serve as a keeping place for a trove of Wiradjuri artifacts gathered around the Barrick Cowal mine, and it will house a wellness center to assist community members dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. In addition, the Center will contain conference and sports facilities and offer child care services for the local community.

“It’s going to be a place where we can implement the principles and practices of Aboriginal learning styles and teaching, and spread the rejuvenation of our culture,” says Percy Knight, CEO of the Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation, a company that has helped spearhead the Wiradjuri’s socio-economic turnaround. “It’s also a center for reconciliation and social inclusion and a place where Wiradjuri people, young and old, can rediscover the Wiradjuri language. It is a place that will mean many different things to many different people on many different levels.”

The Wiradjuri are the traditional owners of the land on which the Cowal mine resides, and the largest Aboriginal group in New South Wales, with a history dating back more than 40,000 years. Forced off their traditional lands by European settlers in the 1800s, the Wiradjuri experienced a prolonged period of decline, and a once-proud culture was supplanted by what Knight describes as a “culture of embracing misery.”

Read more at BarrickBeyondBorders.com

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