woman sits on couch and smiles as she talks to person off camera
Professor Colleen Hayward AM

Whadjuk place names and meanings: Emeritus Professor Colleen Hayward AM

May 2020

Emeritus Professor Colleen Hayward AM has been conducting the Acknowledgment Country for Investiture Ceremonies at Government House for many years. Investitures are held twice annually in the Ballroom and allow the Governor to formally invest and celebrate Western Australian recipients of Australian Honours in front of their family and friends.

At an investiture in September last year, Professor Hayward shared that just as the Ballroom is used for celebrations and large gatherings today, the site had also been used for celebrations by the Whadjuk Clan (the Noongar clan for the metropolitan area of Perth) before colonisation. Back then, the area (where Government House is now situated) was called ‘Kooraree’.

To help educate the broader community about Whadjuk place names and meanings, the Governor and Professor Hayward sat down for a longer conversation on this topic.

Both the Governor and Professor Hayward agreed that knowledge is vital to recognising and celebrating the history and culture of Aboriginal Western Australians, and to enhancing our own connectedness to where we live. Professor Hayward commented,

“One of the blessings about us sharing knowledge and learning from each other is that we become richer as a broad society…For every thread of information it strengthens a person’s connection with this place. The more information, the more threads and the stronger that connection. And then this becomes a place that is truly home, rather than just some place that someone lives.”

The Governor and Professor Hayward also discussed the journey to reconciliation and how new perspectives can be drawn from our experience with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch the conversation in the video frame below

View a list of Whadjuk place names as explained by Professor Hayward (PDF)

Watch the Governor’s Reconciliation Week 2020 video message

Emeritus Professor Colleen Hayward AM is a senior Noongar woman with extensive family links throughout the south-west of WA. 

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