Still Here – A brief History of Aboriginal People in Melbourne’s West

Panel 14 – Summary

This exhibition was originally produced by the Koorie Cultural program at Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West in 1996. Concept and storyline by the then Aboriginal Cultural Officer, Larry Walsh.

In the past Aboriginal people lived, worked, played sport, had meetings and performed in Melbourne’s west. Today this is still happening and we are still here…

Political Movement

An Aboriginal community becomes involved in the decision-making processes in this state through the representative of the Aboriginal organization that it has formed. The community in the west had never formed an official organisation and no funding was available to establish or support any new Aboriginal organisations.
In Autumn 1995, Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West was the venue for a meeting of Aboriginal representatives from both the State and Federal Governments and representatives from local and statewide Aboriginal communities and organisations.

This meeting was held to determine ways of including representation of the local Aboriginal community of the western suburbs in decision making processes of this state.

This was the first meeting of the Western Suburbs Koorie Working Group’.

Comments transcribed from the first meeting of the Western Suburbs Koorie Working Group.

“There is certainly a lack of resources in the Western Suburbs and looking at the documents circulated that identify the number of people living in the Western Suburbs, we need to give some thought to the services that need to be provided…”

“I think it’s the first time that such a meeting has been held. We’ve heard the rumours, we’ve heard the murmurs, we’ve heard the grievances for a number of years from the Western Suburbs…the population
is certainly on the increase…a lot more Koories are coming into this area simply adding to the numbers already existing here.”

“…The basis has been set here for establishing a program, that’s going to have some real positive spin-offs, for us in the Western Suburbs, and with the new contracts that have been won by this group,  it really does go well for increasing employment opportunities for the Western Suburb Koorie kids.”

“…we need to look at the Western Suburbs.particularly Sunshine. St Albans. Keilor, Kealba and those sorts of areas and build on them. By identifying where people are. and if services are in fact needed in the Western Suburbs, we will be able to support these people…”


In the early 1990s within Melbourne’s inner western suburbs there was an expansion of Aboriginal representation within the local communities and within the state and federal government areas. There was employment and Aboriginal involvement In education, cultural heritage, history, employment and the arts.

Within the Federal arena, there was some involvement within Social Security and the C.E.5.
Within the Werribee area there were for a number of years, Aboriginal people working within their local community to develop some infrastructure and a base. They had mainly been operating out of the Heathdale Community Centre. Early 1995 they Incorporated themselves under the Incorporated Associations act as the Kurung. They did not receive any help from the Aboriginal bodies who were there to assist Aboriginal organisations with resources.