Advocacy in Action - Our Indigenous past, vital to our future


It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago the Committee for Perth released its Cultural Compact. Believing that a thriving arts and culture sector is central to a strong and engaged community, the report invited the arts and culture sector, the State Government and other political parties, the business and philanthropic sectors and Local Government Authorities to commit to work through the Cultural Compact together for the next decade to revitalise our capital city and regional cities.

The report set out a vision to have a vibrant State where arts and cultural appreciation and activity is part of everyday life for all Western Australians. Key recommendations included:

  • The acknowledgement of the importance of Aboriginal culture and the arts to the future fabric of Western Australia
  • The engagement of young artists who choose to stay, return to, or visit – because they are encouraged and supported within an incubator environment
  • A dynamic capital city that all Western Australians are proud of
  • Bold and courageous art that places WA firmly on the international stage.

It was then fitting that the Hon. David Templeman MLA, Minister for Local Government; Heritage; Culture and the Arts shared his views and vision for the arts and cultural sector at a Food for Thought Leaders Luncheon in October.

The Minister acknowledged the good work the Committee does and thanked us for the key stakeholder role we play in helping to shape Greater Perth.

He emphasised that when it comes to showcasing Perth to visitors and people wanting to live here, we need to get our story right. It needs to be a genuine narrative about who we are, where we want to be, that also recognises the things that are unique to Western Australia - not just landscapes, oceans and rivers, but our people. The Minister said our story must incorporate our Indigenous history that stretches back tens of thousands of years, and also, our incredibly diverse multicultural society.

Looking towards the not-too-distant future, the Minister said the new WA Museum, scheduled to open in 2020 will be a spectacular celebration of both our Indigenous and multicultural history. He said he was pleased the Premier supported keeping the project alive, despite the tough economic times.

The Minister shared with us that he’s working on a major cultural arts focus that looks to strengthen our Asian connections, saying we need to look to the northern corridor where a large percentage of the world’s population is living. He also said that a cultural infrastructure strategy is in the pipeline, that engages the culture and arts sector around the issue of what infrastructure is needed next. And he alluded that a lyric theatre, a project advocated by the Committee, will be examined.

It was pleasing to hear from the Minister that Western Australia is currently the epicentre of film and television production in Australia, with a number of TV shows, documentaries and films being shot here in recent years, with some still in production. The Minister added that a great by-product of this is that many people involved in the industry, who moved east for work, are now returning home.

Other issues the Minister touched on were the need for authentic Indigenous experiences for tourists and locals alike, his aim to see the old Sunset Heritage Precinct in Dalkeith transformed into a special arts and culture hub that delivers a range of experiences for locals, visitors and artists, and the philanthropic support helping to keep the arts and cultural sectors alive and vibrant.

It was a passionate presentation by a second-time-around Minister - his own words, who told us that he knows what he wants to achieve.

Other articles from Insight, November 2018 (view email newsletter):