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Media release

Mel Walley-Stack, Director of AHWA , Minister and Mark Chambers from AHWA looking at historical records.

Photo: Mel Walley-Stack, Director of AHWA , Minister Buti and Mark Chambers from AHWA looking at historical records

The Aboriginal History Western Australia (AHWA) unit, which was created in 1997, has established the client service area to enhance its efforts in providing access to native welfare records and other historical material.

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

The new Aboriginal History WA service desk is on Level 3 of the State Library at the Perth Cultural Centre. It includes original artwork called Boodja Wangkiny by prominent Noongar artists Peter Farmer Jr, Kayley Emery and Jason Hirst depicting the six Noongar seasons.

The service desk is a key element of a collaboration between AHWA, the State Library and State Records Office to establish a Cultural Hub for Aboriginal people seeking personal and family history materials held by the three entities.

This is one of many initiatives undertaken by 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.

Get more information about AHWA’s family history research service and projects, including the new client service desk.

Minister Buti visits the new space at the Aboriginal History Western Australia (AHWA) unit, and speaks with staff

Photo: Minister Buti (second from left) visits the new space and speaks to (left to right) Casey Petersen, Damian Shepherd, State Records Office Executive Director, Catherine Clark, State Librarian, Kate Alderton, Executive Director of AHWA, Mel Walley-Stack, Director of AHWA and Susan McEwan, Director State Library.

“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,” Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti 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.

“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.

“If you’re an Aboriginal person who would like to find out more about your family’s history but don’t know where to start, visit the AHWA service area on Level 3 of the State Library in Northbridge where dedicated staff will do their best assist you with your research.”

The opening of the new face-to-face space is not the only thing being celebrated at Aboriginal History WA after the team received the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) Best Practice in Innovation, Bronze Award for its databases.

Staff at the AHWA proudly hold their IPAA Bronze Achievement Award

Photo: Nadi Khalil holding IPAA Bronze Achievement Award with Mark Chambers, Minister Buti, Mel Walley-Stack and Kate Alderton.

Mel Walley-Stack, Director at AHWA said: "The work that we do in providing Aboriginal family history services and undertaking truth-telling projects is incredibly important, and it is an honour that the AHWA team has been recognised in the IPAA Awards."

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Page reviewed 27 February 2023