The NSW Government will work with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council to unlock the cultural and economic potential of Goat Island, known traditionally as Me-mel.
Premier Mike Baird and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Leslie Williams today announced the NSW Government will establish a Joint Working Group to explore mechanisms to enable Aboriginal management of Goat Island, including Aboriginal ownership.
“Goat Island, in the centre of Sydney Harbour, has enormous cultural heritage significance for Aboriginal people and was once inhabited by Bennelong and his wife Barangaroo,” Mr Baird said.
“Our commitment to work with the local Aboriginal community provides an incredible opportunity to recognise this unique site always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.”
The Joint Working Group will include Aboriginal, stakeholder and government representatives in recognition of the shared Aboriginal, colonial and maritime history of Goat Island.
“The NSW Government will work in partnership with the Aboriginal community to explore options for the future use of the island, while recognising the unique historic and cultural heritage aspects of the site,” Mr Baird said.
“We are committed to ensuring Aboriginal leadership in management and decision making for the sustainable use of Goat Island.”
The Joint Working Group will be responsible for exploring mechanisms to enable Aboriginal management, including Aboriginal ownership, and developing a business case to unlock the economic potential of the island and ensure its sustainability.
Of priority will be ensuring that existing operations on the island can continue; heritage can be protected, restored and celebrated; and public access rights are maintained.
Minister Williams said the Government knows Goat Island has special significance for Gadigal people, but also acknowledges the island is a unique place that will provide economic, cultural and tourism opportunities for the Aboriginal community more broadly.
“We will work with Metro Local Aboriginal Land Council and other Aboriginal community representatives to progress the Government’s commitment to local decision making to lead exploration of future opportunities, including increasing public access and sharing cultural experiences,” Mrs Williams said.
“We are absolutely committed to Aboriginal leadership for Goat Island, while also acknowledging its heritage significance to all NSW citizens.”