North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre name change
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North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre name change respects Indigenous history

North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre name change respects Indigenous history

Konomie Island Environmental Education Centre has been unveiled as the new official name of what was previously the North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre, in a change that honours the island’s traditional Indigenous name.

Local Member for Keppel and Assistant Minister for Education, Brittany Lauga and Education Minister, Grace Grace made the joint announcement at a ceremony on the island on 27 April.

“I’m so pleased to be joining the Minister today to announce this change which respects the many thousands of years of history the Traditional Custodians of the area, the Woppaburra people, share with this beautiful island,” Ms Lauga said.

“‘Konomie’ was the name the Woppaburra people used for the island so it’s appropriate that we also call the island’s Environmental Education Centre by this historical name. In December last year I was proud to stand here with the Woppaburra people as their native title over this island was recognised. In the early 1980s a midden site at Maizie Bay on the island was found by archaeologist Mike Rowland and dated to be nearly 5000 years old.” continued Ms Langa.

“The connection of the Woppaburra people to the Keppel Island Group is unbroken and enduring. Renaming the Konomie Island Environmental Education Centre demonstrates the Palaszczuk Government’s ongoing commitment to recognising the First Nations history of our state on the pathway towards reconciliation. I’m also pleased to announce the Palaszczuk Government has invested almost $1 million to overhaul the Konomie Island EEC’s catamaran, the Gundoo Spirit.” said Ms Langa.

“It now has new engines, gearboxes, navigational equipment, propellors, electrics and life rafts, as well as repaired hulls, larger doors and a better ramp for improved accessibility, and to top it all off – a striking sticker wrap designed by Woppaburra artist, Janine Croft. Planning is also underway to upgrade the EEC’s energy systems, with 240 new solar panels, batteries, inverters and a gas-fired generator, plus the integration of the only State-owned wind turbine.” continued Ms Langa.

“This new system is planned to be operational by late 2022.” she concluded.

The Konomie Island Environment Education Centre is operated by the Department of Education and allows visitors to learn from the rich experiences North Keppel Island provides.

Education Minister Grace Grace said it was an important day for everyone associated with the Environmental Education Centre.

“We have 26 EECs in Queensland, but Konomie Island EEC is the only one located on a National Park island surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park,” Ms Grace said.

“I’m proud this unique and valuable facility now has a name that reflects the island’s proud Indigenous history. While the Department of Education operates the EEC, I want to acknowledge and thank our supporting partners, like the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Central Queensland University, the Fitzroy Basin Association and of course the Woppaburra people. Your valuable support allows North Keppel Island to be a place of scientific research, teaching, learning, conservation and recreation.” Ms Grace said.

Woppaburra elder, Warinkil Auntie Glenice Croft, welcomed the news of the EEC’s name change.

“(Speaking on behalf of the) Woppaburra Tribal Elders, we welcome the acknowledgement of our Matriarchal Island Home, Konomie’s name, now being used by the Konomie Island Environmental Education Centre,” Ms Croft said.

Konomie Island Environmental Education Centre Principal Andrew Gill also welcomed the news of the name change.

“We are very excited to see that the business case we presented to change the EEC’s name has been approved,” Mr Gill said.

“In drafting our business case we consulted with a wide range of stakeholders including the Woppaburra Land Trust, Woppaburra Tribal Elders, Woppaburra TUMRA, the Woppaburra Native Title Committee, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, NKIEEC P&C Association, centre staff, the Livingstone Shire Council, the State Government and Federal Government – all have given their overwhelming stamp of approval to this long-awaited change.” Mr Gill continued.

“This centre is such an important facility which is booked out all year round, with a long waiting list – we also host a range of community groups including bird watching, local kayaking clubs, Go Over Fifty Active Recreation groups, Alliance Francois, Capricorn Coast Landcare and Fitzroy Basin Association as well as Departmental groups such as the Centre for Learning and Wellbeing and school staff professional developments.” Mr Gill said.

“As someone who actually visited the island myself as a student when I was 12 I know just what a big impact it made on me – I’m very happy that this wonderful facility now bears a name that respects the island’s 5000-year history of human habitation.” Mr Gill said.

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