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Collaboration sees new face-to-face service for Aboriginal people seeking to uncover family history in WA

Callan Morse -

Aboriginal people in WA interested in learning more about their heritage now have an enhanced opportunity to do so at the State Library in Perth.

The dedicated client service space, established by Aboriginal History Western Australia (AHWA) provides a means for Indigenous people to request ancestry information and research services.

The Western Australian government says the AHWA team, which sits within the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, has a unique skillset that enables it to locate hard-to-find records, and the capacity to create comprehensive genealogies extending back multiple generations.

In a statement issued this week, the government noted that the service desk is a key element of a collaboration between the AHWA, the State Library, and the State Records Office to establish the Cultural Hub for Aboriginal people seeking personal and family history materials held by the three entities.

Western Australian Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Dr Tony Buti, said the new service supplements services already available to Aboriginal peoples in the state.

"The Aboriginal History WA team is doing some remarkable work to assist in truth-telling, and its new face-to-face client space is an important addition to the services available," Dr Buti said.

"AHWA's new service space is a welcoming area for Aboriginal people to come and have a yarn, and to learn more about their ancestors and previously untold stories from the past."

The Minister said the extent of records created by historical government agencies illustrate a prolonged period of excessive control by the state.

"As intrusive as these records are, they provide many Aboriginal people, including members of the Stolen Generations, a window into not only their life story, but the life stories of their direct ancestors," he said.

The service is one of numerous truth-telling initiatives undertaken by the AHWA in partnership with Aboriginal communities and stakeholders to connect people to their Aboriginal ancestry, including the release of family history databases that are searchable on the AHWA website.

The service desk, which features original artwork called Boodja Wangkinyby by prominent Noongar artists Peter Farmer Jr, Kayley Emery and Jason Hirst depicting the six Noongar seasons, can be found on Level 3 of the State Library, at the Perth Cultural Centre.

More information about the AHWA's family history research service and projects, including the new client service desk are available on the Western Australian Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries website.

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