City of Whittlesea administrator Christian Zahra, left, Gunditjmara woman Karen Bryant, chair administrator Lydia Wilson and administrator Peita Duncan turn the first sod on the Aboriginal Gathering Place at Quarry Hills Parkland. ​

The City of Whittlesea’s journey towards reconciliation reached a milestone on Tuesday when the first sod was turned on the Aboriginal Gathering Place at Quarry Hills Parkland.

The Aboriginal Gathering Place is a key part of council’s commitment to reconciliation and self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Establishing a place to promote cultural practices and knowledge-sharing has been a policy priority for council, Whittlesea Reconciliation Group, WRG, and the Whittlesea Aboriginal Gathering Place Advisory Group for many years.

City of Whittlesea administrator Peita Duncan, also a member of WRG, said council was committed to reconciliation and creating opportunities for improved cultural, health, social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal residents.

“The Aboriginal Gathering Place will have enormous benefits for the local Aboriginal community,” she said.

“It will be a culturally safe space where Elders can connect not only with each other, but with younger generations and the community at large.”

The Aboriginal Gathering Place will be built on land at Quarry Hills Parkland in South Morang, a location of great significance for the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people.

It will feature indoor and outdoor multi-purpose spaces including consulting suites, a meeting room, quiet room and a large community events space for up to 100 people.

Construction is anticipated to begin in early-to-mid 2024, with the centre expected to open in 2025.

“By celebrating Aboriginal culture, we can increase awareness and understanding in the wider community,” Ms Duncan said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to make a real difference in the lives of so many people in our community.”

For more information about the Aboriginal Gathering Place, people can visit www.whittlesea.vic.gov.au/aboriginalgatheringplace.