City of Newcastle is working with Worimi Land Council and local elders to develop a Plan of Management for Rawson Park Reserve in order to protect Aboriginal heritage, including an onsite meeting Wednesday with the Lord Mayor, senior staff, and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the meeting with Worimi Land Council CEO Andrew Smith and local elder Len Anderson involved productive discussions on managing the site and its Indigenous heritage following recent emergency works to relocate cabins from the threat of erosion.
“It’s very important that Andrew and Len gave their time to talk through the history of this site and how we can protect its cultural heritage,” Cr Nelmes said.
“It’s clear there is an amazing history going back a significant amount of time on this site that is important for not only local Indigenous people but for the whole community.
“We want to make sure that although Stockton is a natural disaster zone and emergency works have taken place, that they are only done in recognition of this being an Aboriginal place and that any artefacts found are protected and our cultural heritage is preserved.”
Andrew Smith Worimi Aboriginal Land Council CEO said a positive outcome could be reached on the site and that the Worimi Land Council would work in partnership with the City to preserve cultural history.
“I’m really thankful for City of Newcastle’s commitment to meet us here on site and to go over the issues we see in the abundance of occupational heritage and cultural evidence of artefacts. I think through their understanding and awareness of what this site represents, moving forward it’s a great outcome,” Mr Smith said.
“Our plan now is to salvage any artefacts, objects and items that have been exposed. In partnership with Council we will work towards lodging an Aboriginal Place Nomination which will allow a collaboration between Council and the Aboriginal community to develop a plan for this site that makes sure that we don’t compromise the world’s oldest living culture.”
Worimi elder Lennie Anderson was also determined to reach a positive outcome on the site.
“I feel that Council is endeavouring to walk forward with us and to come up with an amicable decision on what has been done here. We have to work out something that benefits the whole community.”
City of Newcastle has commenced work to secure a number of the relocated cabins for public safety reasons. The City will continue to work with the Department of Planning Industry and Environment and Worimi Land Council to tie down the remaining unsecured cabins before a medium to long term solution can be resolved.