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Curtin University
Centre For Aboriginal Studies

About us

The Centre for Aboriginal Studies aspires to contribute to positive social change for Indigenous Australians through higher education and research.

One of the main reasons for the success of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies is that Aboriginal people have a place on campus which holds for them a sense of belonging, autonomy and strength. Aboriginal students have a base on campus that encourages them to be in control of their own learning, that provides support services structured in a way to empower them. In this sense, the design of the Centre and its operations function as a model of Aboriginal self-determination.

The Centre is an attractive place with a feeling of open space and light; where wood and stone and ochre tones are combined within the circular central area in a building based on curved lines distinctly different from most of the other buildings on the campus. The design complements the friendly and informal atmosphere created by the staff to create a space where Aboriginal people can feel a sense of belonging.

Most of the materials used in this building come from natural resources. The clay-tile roof of most of the building contrasts with a steeply pitched metal roof in the central foyer. The foyer features timber building materials throughout.

The circular shape of the building reinforces the meaning and function of the Centre. It is also reflected in the Centre's logo - a lizard curled around in a circular shape.

Midgegoroo meeting place

The main lobby at the Centre is dedicated to the memory of the Nyungar elder, Midgegoroo. Together with his son Yagan and other Aboriginal warriors, he fought and died resisting the invasion of Nyungar territory by British colonists, and was executed by firing squad at Perth, WA in 1833.

Midgegoroo's struggle symbolises the fierce spirit of resistance to oppression. Throughout the ages this spirit has motivated people to fight for their rights. The fight for freedom and equality embodied in the life and death of Aboriginal resistance leaders like Midgegoroo and Yagan epitomises the struggles of all oppressed cultures across time and inspires us to work towards a vision of a world where all people are free and equal on their own terms.

Since the lobby is the main circulation space and also the heart of the Centre, it is used to hold exhibitions, functions and special ceremonies. It also plays a vital role in protecting the ethos of the Centre.

The Centre Mosaic

The Centre for Aboriginal Studies (CAS) Mosaic was created by Artist, the late Joan Martin.

It was developed from a painting which was the winning design in the CAS Art Work Commission. The painted image is translated into the mosaic floor piece found in the Midgegoroo Meeting Place, which is the foyer of the main CAS Building.

Joan Martin was from the Murchison area and sadly she passed away in 2008.

The mosaic depicts the coming together of the many different Aboriginal tribal groups. The eight circles of concentric rings represent the camps of the different tribes gathered around the central meeting place represented by the central circle.

These groups have travelled from many parts of the country to be together in celebration.

The elongated figures represent all the spirits and ancestors accompanying the tribes on their journey to the great meeting place, the Centre for Aboriginal Studies (CAS). It is believed that these spirits always travel beside or behind Aboriginal people.

The goanna logo

The goanna - known as "Gunada", "Kakaji", "Barney", "Karda" and "Bungarra" is significant to dreamtime.

It embodies strength, wisdom and endurance. It lies in a circle, which symbolises both the cycles and continuity of life as well as unity and equality.

The goanna and the circle represent our aspirations.