An island in Sydney Harbor is returning to Aboriginal hands, with the New South Wales government providing $43 million for clean-up and repair.
Prime Minister Dominique Beirut said on Sunday that transferring Mi-Mille, or Goat Island, to its traditional owners is a “personal priority”.
“A large part of my commitment is to ensure that the island is rehabilitated before it is handed over to the indigenous people,” he said in a statement.
The funding will help repair dams and buildings, improve access to sidewalks, improve services and remove pollutants such as asbestos over the next four years.
The National Park and Wildlife Service is inviting Expressions of Interest to join a panel to make recommendations for Indigenous ownership of Memel.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Ben Franklin said the Mi-Mel Transport Committee is made up of Aboriginal people and representatives from NSW state government agencies.
“The Me-mel is of great significance to Aboriginal people, including the story of the creation of the Boora Birra, where the great eel spirit created the waterways now known as Sydney Harbour,” he said.
The capital’s Indigenous Lands Council vice president, Yvonne Weldon, said the island is a place where people can live in their culture, pass on stories to future generations and share them with others.
“Me-mel is an opportunity to tell the truth, and it’s about learning about the past and unlocking the future,” she said.
The island is listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register and has a number of significant indigenous, historical and natural values including more than 30 buildings and other structures dating from between 1830 and 1960.
The NPWS will continue to operate the Me-mel until the transfer is complete and public access to the island is maintained.