Noongar Elders have officially signed a Yacker Danjoo Ngala Bidi with the City of Perth, acknowledging the Whadjuk Nyoongar People as the Traditional Owners of the capital.

Yacker Danjoo Ngala Bidi means ‘Working Together Our Way’ in Whadjuk Nyoongar; the document was signed by City of Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas, CEO Michelle Reynolds and a group of Noongar Elders.

In the Yacker Danjoo Ngala Bidi (Yacker Danjoo), the council commits to work with the Aboriginal Elders and members of community who have cultural connection to Boorloo/Perth which is situated on Whadjuk Noongar Boodja (Whadjuk Noongar Country).

The signing was held on October 5, and featured a smoking ceremony and a Welcome to Country by Uncle Ben Taylor, as well as as performance by Nigel Wilkes Senior and the Mungart Yongah Dancers.

The City of Perth acknowledged Aunty Theresa Walley, Aunty Doolan Eatts, Uncle Ben Taylor, Aunty Margaret Culbong, Aunty Muriel Bowie, Uncle Walter Eatts, Uncle Farley Garlett, Aunty Irene McNamara, Uncle Albert McNamara and Uncle Noel Nannup.

Uncle Noel said the signing of the Yacker Danjoo showed the City valued Aboriginal people.

“That’s all we need in life, is to feel valued and understood, and when we talk we need someone to listen to us,” he said.

“And then to exhibit the qualities of not just a listener, but someone who heard, and then act upon the recommendations that we put together, and that’s exactly what happened with the City of Perth, allowing us to do what we needed to do, to reach this amicable arrangement.”

Vice Chair of the Wungening Aboriginal Corporation, Noongar man Danny Ford, said the signing of the Yacker Danjoo was a sign of how much has changed at the city of Perth.

“If you think about it, the City, a few years back, were removing Aboriginal people from Herrison Island and using the police to do that,” he said.

“And now the city has gone there saying to Aboriginal people, ‘well how do you want to use this place’?”

“To me personally, that’s a one-eighty degree turn, the city has absolutely shifted around and to some extent that’s about them becoming more knowledgeable about Aboriginal history.”

Ford said that there’s been the “180 degree turn”, there is still a long way to go.

By Sarah Smit