Construction on an Aboriginal gathering place at Parkland's Quarry Hills commenced on Tuesday, marking a milestone in the City of Wittlesea's journey towards reconciliation.
Local Aboriginal community leaders joined City of Whittlesea chair administrator, Lydia Wilson and Administrators Peita Duncan and Christian Zahra to mark the occasion.
The establishment of the Aboriginal gathering place is a key part of the City of Whittlesea Council's commitment to reconciliation and self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Establishing a place to promote cultural practices and knowledge-sharing has been a policy priority for Council, the Whittlesea Reconciliation Group (WRG) and Whittlesea Aboriginal Gathering Place Advisory Group for many years.
Administrator Peita Duncan, who is a member of the Whittlesea Reconciliation Group, said Council was committed to reconciliation and creating opportunities for improved cultural, health, social and economic outcomes for Indigenous residents.
"The Aboriginal Gathering Place will have enormous benefits for the local Aboriginal community," Ms Duncan said.
"It will be a culturally safe space where Elders can connect not only with each other, but with younger generations and the community at large.
"And it will strengthen Aboriginal culture through connection to Country and empower Aboriginal residents by fostering a greater understanding of traditions and customs."
Set to be built on land at Quarry Hills Parklands that holds great significance to Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung peoples, the Aboriginal Gathering Place will feature indoor and outdoor multi-purpose spaces including consulting suites, meeting room, quiet room and a large community events space for up to 100 people.
"By celebrating Aboriginal culture we can increase awareness and understanding in the wider community," Ms Duncan said.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for us to make a real difference in the lives of so many people in our community."
Construction is set to begin in early-to-mid 2024, with the centre expected to open in 2025.