Push for Tiagarra plan funds

ADVOCATE, 5 June 2015

AS RECOGNITION of the value of Aboriginal tourism in Tasmania grows, a debate over the future of Devonport’s iconic Tiagarra Aboriginal Tourism and Cultural Centre has dragged on into another year.
Money that could have been used to help devise a viable business plan for Tiagarra was expected to be announced in the state budget and wasn’t.
However, a state government spokesman gave hope this week the funds could still be provided.
LANGUISHING: Devonport’s Tiagarra Aboriginal Tourism and Cultural Centre closed more than two years ago and there is a push to secure funds to help devise a viable business plan.
“We’re in the final stages of negotiations and we look forward to making an announcement soon,” the spokesman said.
It is understood an amount of $60,000 was previously granted to Six Rivers Aboriginal Corporation for Tiagarra and after the centre was shut the funds were not accessed.
In 2014 SRAC called on all levels of government to pitch in and provide money for a”regionally significant” tourism venture.
SRAC closed the doors more than two years ago because of ongoing operational and financial issues at Tiagarra.
Devonport Deputy Mayor Annette Rockliff was appointed as chairperson of a Tiagarra Special Interest Group announced by the Devonport City Council, which owns the Mersey Bluff building, late last year in order to prepare a report on the future of Tiagarra.
In December Alderman Rockliff said it could amount to the last option there was open to finding a way for Tiagarra to be run as a sustainable operation.
The stakeholder group was expanded to include the broader Aboriginal community to help inform any new business plan for Tiagarra.
Alderman Rockliff said this week the group hoped to receive the grant money that was given to SRAC and not used at the time.
“We’ve asked the state government to release that money to allow us to employ an independent consultant to work with our special interest group to talk to all the stakeholders around what, if anything, is possible for Tiagarra’s future,” Alderman Rockliff said.
She said Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff was approached over the matter.
Alderman Rockliff said that on a personal level, if a plan that worked could be developed she would like to see Tiagarra reopen, but she admitted the process so far had been a difficult one.
“It’s about 40 years since [Tiagarra] was set up and it’s going to need some work and some money spent on the building and the exhibition as both are quite dated now,” she said.
Meantime a workshop at the Tasmania Tourism Conference this week in Launceston included a discussion panel led by Greg Lehman, who has worked in advertising, Aboriginal education and World Heritage management.
Mr Lehman spoke about wanting to shift the perception of Aboriginal tourism in Tasmania from something that’s difficult to something doable.