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This year NAIDOC Week celebrates ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’, recognising the spiritual and cultural connection that First Nations people have to country.
With METRONET projects being delivered on Noongar land, our Gnarla Biddi Strategy has been developed to embed genuine and ongoing engagement with the Aboriginal community. The underlying narrative of Gnarla Biddi aligns with this year’s NAIDOC theme, recognising that the railways are built on ancient Noongar pathways.
Before works begin on any of our projects, we engage our METRONET Noongar Reference Group to provide advice on the appropriate ceremonies to mark the start of works including Welcome to Country and smoking ceremonies. This is an important part of honouring our commitments under the Noongar Cultural Recognition stream.
Before the Yanchep Rail Extension started, METRONET Noongar Reference Group representative Doreen Nelson turned the first sod with a traditional digging stick or Wanna Stick. Doreen shared that this is significant in Noongar Country as a tool for digging wild root vegetables, Bardi / Witchetty grubs, honey ants and other traditional foods. Wanna sticks are used by Noongar women as men would traditionally hunt for food with Kitj / spear and Kyalli / Boomerang.
Welcomes and other ceremonies have been held at the project sites for the new Bayswater Station, Denny Avenue Level Crossing Removal, Yanchep Rail Extension, Claremont Station and Mandurah Station Multi-Storey Car Park.
Ceremonies are performed on advice provided by the METRONET Noongar Reference Group, who provide direct input into any cultural recognition activities across the METRONET program.