Statement of Patricia Hart
I am the Chairperson of Armadale Gosnells Landcare Group Inc (AGLG).
In early 2023 AGLG was directed by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DPLH) to confer with the Whadjuk Aboriginal Corporation (WAC), who represent the Knowledge Holders and Traditional Owners of Whadjuk lands, regarding land care projects being planned by AGLG. DPLH stated that AGLG should seek written confirmation from WAC as to whether WAC supported any proposed works.
Consistent with this direction from DPLH, AGLG had been conferring with WAC via its CEO, Mr David Collard.
AGLG was proposing to conduct a number of land care projects adjacent to the Canning River and had, for a number of months, been in conferral with WAC as to those projects.
One of those projects was at Goolamrup and was scheduled to commence on 15 July 2023. However, while indications of support had been given by WAC (by Mr Collard), formal agreement and consent had not been given.
On 14 July 2023 I was advised that Mr Collard had been contacted by a relevant officer of the AGLG as to the issue of WAC’s consent. I understood that:
- Mr Collard, on behalf of Whadjuk Aboriginal Corporation, was in negotiations with River and Estuaries [a branch of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions];
- he, and Whadjuk Aboriginal Corporation, had not completed those negotiations; and
- he, and Whadjuk Aboriginal Corporation, were not in a position to give consent to the Armadale Gosnells Landcare Group Inc until those negotiations were concluded.
While I was certainly keen to commence the land care projects, as I was firmly of the belief that they were important for the environment and the community, I did understand from DPLH that the WAC’s consent was important to have before those projects could commence.
It was my understanding that WAC’s consent was important because of the new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021, but I did not understand the operation of that Act, and expressed my lack of understanding to a journalist.
At no point did I seek to cast doubt upon the character of Mr Collard, whom I have known for many years and regard as a strong voice for First Nations’ people in Western Australia, and the Noongar community in particular.
I regret that my words have been used as part of a publication that has brought hurt and distress to Mr Collard.
Armadale Gosnells Landcare Group Inc
2022-23 Financial Year Summary:
Notice of the 2023 Annual General Meeting: