Social Sustainability

The Social Sustainability Policy (the Policy) describes the Rottnest Island Authority’s (RIA) approach to maintaining a positive social environment within the Rottnest Island Reserve.

The Policy supports the RIA’s overarching Sustainability Policy and is consistent with the strategic direction of Rottnest Island.

The Island’s harmonious social environment is one of its main attractions to visitors and therefore, needs to be preserved and actively supported. The social environment contributes to the Island’s economic viability.

Social sustainability describes the Rottnest Island Authority’s (RIA) approach to maintaining a positive and inclusive social environment within the Rottnest Island Reserve.

Maintaining a harmonious social environment supports the operation of world-class tourism facilities and services that both celebrate and respect the Island’s unique mix of cultural and built heritage places.

This approach is embedded within RIA’s overarching Social Sustainability Policy and is consistent with the strategic direction of Rottnest Island.

Culturally significant sites on Wadjemup

Known as ‘Wadjemup’ in the Noongar language of the traditional Whadjuk custodians, Rottnest Island offers a landmark Aboriginal heritage and reconciliation site due to its historical use as an Aboriginal prison from 1838-1904, and subsequent forced labour camp for Aboriginal prisoners until 1931.

To read about the Island’s prison history in detail, refer to the ‘Aboriginal’ link on the ‘Our history’ page of the Rottnest Island website.

Artefacts have also been found at a number of sites on Rottnest Island predating 6,500 years ago, indicating occupation of the land by Whadjuk people prior to the Island’s separation from the mainland. There are currently 17 registered Aboriginal heritage sites on the Island which are protected under provisions of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972, including amongst others Dreaming sites, archaeological sites and the Burial Ground. Under this Act, it is an offence to alter an Aboriginal site in any way without prior written permission from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

The Wadjemup Project

The path to recognition, resolution, realisation

The return of the Quod (former Aboriginal prison) and some associated structures to RIA management and control on 31 May 2018 marks the renewal of a State-wide conversation with the WA Aboriginal community about the future of Aboriginal heritage on the Island.

The Quod, Aboriginal Burial Ground, Aboriginal Prison Hospital, Prisoner’s Walk, Prisoner Transit Cell, and other buildings along Vincent Way, are all intricately connected to the Aboriginal prison history on the Island.

The Wadjemup Project aims to appropriately recognise and reconcile this history, and realise a future use for these sites that conforms with the wishes of the WA Aboriginal community.

The Quod project

Refer to the Quod project page for details or updates on this important project which aims to appropriately recognise and conserve the former prison building.

Wadjemup Aboriginal Burial Ground project

Refer to the Wadjemup Aboriginal Burial Ground project page for details or updates on this important project which aims to appropriately recognise and conserve the site.