‘Vital showcase’ for indigenous culture

Advocate, LIBBY BINGHAM, p.4 – 30 Jan 2014

INCREASED demand for understanding indigenous culture and its value as a tourism attraction, meant it would be an “absolute tragedy” if Devonport’s Tiagarra Aboriginal Culture Centre and Museum did not reopen to the public.
That’s the view of Greens MHA Paul O’Halloran.

“It is absolutely important we showcase our rich indigenous history – there are so many stories that are untold,” Mr O’Halloran said.
“As a community we need to develop a greater understanding of the contribution indigenous Tasmanians have made and will continue to make; and places like Tiagarra are really important icons from which to showcase some of those stories.
“We need to work in cooperation with the indigenous community, in terms of working on a way to make sure that it doesn’t close (for good).”
Labor MHA Brenton Best said a government museum assistance program could provide some of the support Tiagarra would need to reopen.
Mr Best said he had not been approached about assistance for Tiagarra since the loss making centre had to close to the public in 2012.
At the time, Six Rivers Aboriginal Corporation told the Devonport City Council it could no longer run Tiagarra as it did not have the funds or the people.
Mr Best said about $1 million was used to help relocate SRAC from its inadequate offices at East Devonport to new offices at Latrobe and part of the money, which came from the sale of the building at East Devonport, was to go to help with Tiagarra.
“It probably wasn’t enough to develop Tiagarra to where it needs to be and there were some discussions at the time around assistance through other government programs like the museum assistance program,” Mr Best said.
“It can provide a grant and a curator that comes in to help on a number of levels: to train people in how to administer (a museum).”
Mr Best said Tiagarra is an important part of Tasmania’s indigenous culture.
“Tiagarra is an important experience for local, interstate and international tourism and it is important for Devonport,” he said.

“Tiagarra seems to need the same level of skills to run it and same support other museums get around the state.

“The Bass Strait Maritime Museum is an example of what can happen. Devonport could blend Tiagarra with the Maritime Museum and the redevelopment of the surf club and restaurants.”
A new Tiagarra working committee will meet again in February to look at future options for Tiagarra.