Aboriginal engagement

The project is located on Whadjuk Noongar country and the Whadjuk Noongar people are acknowledged as the traditional custodians for the country we are working on. We acknowledge their elders past and present.

Early engagement with Aboriginal people has been critical for the project to date and a close relationship will continue through the life of the project.

During the project’s planning phase, the Public Transport Authority consulted with the Whadjuk Working Party via the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC): the legal representative body for the Whadjuk Native Title claimants.

The project team will continue to consult with the Wadjuk Working Party via SWALSC throughout the project on matters relating to Aboriginal heritage and engagement.

Aboriginal business participation

An Aboriginal Engagement Strategy has been developed for the project to help ensure real, on-the-ground measurable results for Aboriginal participation. The targets are as follows:

  • 2% Aboriginal employment (of total work hours)
  • $15 million minimum spend with Aboriginal businesses
  • $25 million minimum spend opportunity via invitations to tender

The project is looking to leverage economic participation for Aboriginal people through procurement (via the supply of goods and services for the construction and commissioning phases of the project) and employment opportunities. The following documents provide further detail about opportunities for involvement.

Aboriginal heritage

The rail route has the potential to impact two registered Aboriginal Heritage Sites — the Swan River and Poison Gully Creek near the Forrestfield end of the line.

As such, notices have been lodged under Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 for the project. Before preparing and lodging its statutory request for approvals relating to impacts on Aboriginal heritage, the Public Transport Authority undertook site-specific heritage consultation surveys.

For each consultation survey, the project team has selected appropriate spokespersons and ensured Noongar representation based on advice from SWALSC, the Whadjuk Working Party, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Public Transport Authority’s Aboriginal heritage consultant. This process took place in January 2015 and was an important milestone in the project’s progress, allowing planning to remain on target to deliver this important rail line in 2020.

Smoking ceremony

A smoking ceremony was held at the future Forrestfield Station site in February, at the location where the two tunnel boring machines will be launched in the coming months.

Noongar elder, Mr Neville Collard, performed the ceremony in front of 30 representatives from the project team. Mr Collard delivered the ceremony in Noongar language and asked for the good spirits to come and walk with PTA and SI-NRW staff, to look after us on the project and walk with us into the future.  

The smoking ceremony was a request made by Traditional Owners during PTA’s consultation with the Whadjuk Native Title Claimant Group and is one of the most significant ancient ceremonies performed by Aboriginal people. It involves smouldering native plants (in this case grasstree bark, known as Balga in the Noongar language) and eucalyptus leaves, to produce smoke which is believed to have cleansing properties and the ability to ward off bad spirits.

Future smoking ceremonies are planned for other project work sites prior to major excavation.

$15 million

The minimum spend with Aboriginal businesses

Heritage Icon

Aboriginal engagement to continue throughout the project