“The RIA are doing small things, for instance they have an exhibition in the museum, but my argument is until something is done about the quad and the burial site there can be no real progress.”
The Rottnest Island Lodge should be transformed into a memorial site to the 3,700 indigenous Western Australians imprisoned there between 1813 and 1931, according to respected Aboriginal researcher Glen Stasiuk. Mr Stasiuk says 370 prisoners died in that period during their incarceration and were buried in unmarked graves. “The site is currently an eyesore … nothing significant has been done to cordon the area off from the public” said Mr Stasiuk. The Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) has indicated talks on the future of the buildings could be four years away. In a media statement to Bounce News, the Authority said it is aware and respectful of the significance the lodge and burial ground have to Aboriginal people. It says the expiry of the lodge lease in 2018 provides an opportunity for consultation with regard to the appropriate development of the quad buildings. Mr Stasuik says more needs to be done by the state government and the Rottnest Island authority to move the issue beyond talk and into something more substantial. “The state government needs to find funding to begin progress now rather than in 2018.” “The state government through the RIA should look towards progressing a working committee with Aboriginal representatives from around the state…there is no sign of anything like this happening so far,” he said. Mr Stasiuk’s proposals are outlined in his award winning film Wadjemup: Black Prison White Playground. “I would like to see Quad A be annexed from its current status as accommodation and some attempt to involve the wider Aboriginal community in the future plans of the burial site,” he said.