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Australia commits $228m to build a landmark centre for Indigenous culture

Ngurra precinct in Canberra will provide a home for returned ancestral remains in the heart of the capital

shore of Lake Burley Griffin
Ngurra will be situated on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin alongside key national institutions in Canberra, between Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial | Photograph © Jason Tong/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

"A new Indigenous cultural precinct where repatriated ancestral remains will be cared for, and where Indigenous Australia’s history will be unfurled through a large but little-known collection, is set to become a reality in four years on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.

The Australian prime minister Scott Morrison and the minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt made the joint announcement on 4 January. The precinct will be called Ngurra, meaning home, country or place of belonging. The federal government has allocated A$316.5m ($228m) towards its construction, with a national architectural competition due to be launched this month.

Significantly, Ngurra will be built on Commonwealth Place in the so-called “parliamentary triangle”, which encompasses Parliament House, the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, the High Court, the National Gallery of Australia and the National Portrait Gallery. The Australian War Memorial sits across the lake. Also nearby is the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, a heritage-listed permanent protest site for Indigenous Australians, where generations of people have fought for equality since 1972.

Ngurra will include a National Resting Place for Indigenous remains that have been repatriated from overseas collections, and a new home for the government-backed Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), established in 1964. A knowledge and learning centre will display the AIATSIS collection of objects and archives, described by Wyatt as “the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultural and heritage items”.[...]"

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