Known as the people of the three rivers, Wiradjuri people have inhabited modern-day New South Wales, Australia for at least 60,000 years. At the time of European colonization, there were an estimated 3,000 Wiradjuri living in the region, representing the largest cultural footprint in the state. Our country extends from the Great Dividing Range in the east, and is bordered by the Macquarie, Lachlan and Murrumbidgee rivers. The Wiradjuri nation is the largest cultural footprint in NSW and second largest geographically in Australia.
The Wiradjuri people were a huntergatherer society, made up of small clans or family groups whose movements followed seasonal food gathering and ritual patterns.
Today, major Wiradjuri populations can be found in rural and remote and throughout larger regional areas such as Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange, Lithgow and down to Wagga Wagga in the south.
Condobolin is the home of the Kalarie people, lower Lachlan region, and is considered by other Wiradjuri communities to be the heart beat of the Wiradjuri nation.
In 2003 as the result of a Native Title Agreement between Barrick Gold of Australia and the Wiradjuri Native Title Party. The Agreement, known as the Ancillary Deed MLA 45, between Barrick Gold and the Wiradjuri Native Title Party came out of negotiations under the Native Title Act, concerning the granting of a mining lease at Lake Cowal to Barrick Gold. The agreement predominantly benefits the Wiradjuri Condobolin people.
The corporation is made up of a Board of five members with a staff consisting of a CEO and both full time and part time office administration staff. It has approximately 400 paid-up members, and employs about 40 local Wiradjuri people.
The WCC has generated employment for it’s members, education and training pro-grams and business opportunities, including community service programs, in partnership with various private, public and community enterprises and agencies. These programs and opportunities are available not only for regional Aboriginal people, but also for members of the wider community.
The WCC is very concerned with safeguarding the region’s significant Indigenous cultural heritage during and after mining operations. To ensure this, the Wiradjuri Condobolin Culture and Heritage Company (WCCHC) has been set up with this responsibility; a subsidiary company owned and controlled by the WCC.
Further, Barrick Gold and the WCC have entered into a Cultural Heritage Management Plan. This governs the management of Wiradjuri Condobolin Cultural Places, both in the Project Mine Area and over Wiradjuri Condobolin Country as a whole.
The WCC has always recognised the need for wealth creation through sustainable business as an important contribution to self determination for the Condobolin Aboriginal community.
A Business Hub concept grew out of the importance of establishing a range of businesses to underpin the resilience of the community in the face of the potential vulnerability of living in a remote rural community. This is particularly relevant as rural towns such as Condobolin face especially complex challenges in a globalised, technology influenced world, where governments are withdrawing services and where climate change is developing as a negative factor. A positive factor however for this region, is the planned development of the mining sector.
The Business Hub is a centre which aims to maximise personal and business synergies for local Aboriginal people and for the WCC, as a vehicle to minimise business costs and provide the supportive and learning environment which is conducive to fostering the necessary skills to achieve successful enterprises. Our current and proposed businesses are cleaning, composting, compressed bricks, design, eco-housing, furniture, postal services and transport and freight.
The strategy is for local aboriginal people to benefit by: Fostering a culture of effective, sustainable and culturally appropriate businesses supporting and managing profitable and sustainable businesses maximizing synergies and efficiencies across the WCC businesses providing employment for Aboriginal people in Aboriginal run businesses implementing a youth leadership program as a basis to a succession policy providing economic and social support for the wider local Aboriginal community.
The WCC began to produce pieces of furniture made from local pine in 2007. The program was designed to be part of a training course, to prepare the participants for the construction of the WSC. The wood working and cabinet making aspects of the course, turned out to be very popular among participants and a number of furniture items were made. The items were outstanding quality and were offered for sale at 80 Bathurst Street under the business name, Affordable Furniture. The result of these actions was that there was a significant interest shown by local people and sales made of the items on display.
Currently the nature of this business has changed in as much that the WCC still control the operations of the business, and it is still housed at 80 Bathurst Street in the original WCC headquarters, but with a different focus. The business employs WCC staff to manage the “shop” in terms of; identifying products to place on the shop floor, organising freight of those products to Condobolin, preparing the products for presentation to the public, managing the stock inventory and associated accounting records, then overseeing the sale of the product.
A feature of this set-up has been the introduction of an easy-buy facility called “SMARTrent”. Essentially this facility is open to any one, and allows potential customers the opportunity to obtain furniture to the value of $2000.00. Customers have the option of repayments being debited directly from their bank account or from Centrelink through centrepay, which is an easy way for them to pay their accounts. The business has been very competitive in the District, and all proceeds are funnelled back to the WCC for the eventual benefit of the local community, in line with the original intent of the organization’s charter.