Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt is encouraging Western Australians to use the services of Aboriginal History WA (AHWA) to learn about their Aboriginal ancestry, after gaining access to his own family records.
The Healing Foundation recently identified the need for individuals impacted by past government policies to have access to records about themselves, their families and origins for healing and reconciliation to occur.
The Minister, whose father was placed at Sister Kate’s, a children’s orphanage in Queens Park, previously accessed his family records to get a greater understanding of his ancestry and connection to country.
AHWA, a unit in the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, manages access to restricted historical records and provides information in response to requests.
It has a range of ways to locate family history and can create comprehensive genealogies. In the last financial year, AHWA responded to more than 300 applications for information.
The AHWA also undertakes historical projects that promote an in-depth understanding and awareness of Aboriginal history of Western Australia. These projects include the Gnarla Boodja Mili Mili map, which shows the traditional Aboriginal place names for the inner Perth area.
AHWA services align with a number of recommendations from the Bringing Them Home Report.
For more information, and to apply for this service, visit https://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/aboriginal-history
As stated by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:
“My father was forcibly removed from his family as a child in 1940, and I only discovered this after his death by accessing family history information from Aboriginal History WA.
“It was through this research that I realised he was born in Moore River Native Settlement, not Meekatharra where he said he was born. He never wanted to publicly claim Moore River as his birthplace.
“He tried to ensure that my sister and I never had the same battles he did, so he shielded us from the pain he and his family endured by having their life controlled by authorities.
“I encourage Aboriginal people who are seeking to work out who they are, where they are from and who they are connected to, to seek out their family history.
“It is moving and confronting but knowing the truth can bring healing and reconciliation which is incredibly important for our lives and nation.”