The Wanju Biddi welcome garden project

The Wanju Biddi welcome garden project
The Wanju Biddi welcome garden project

What was once a sandy strip of land at an industrial chemical site in Kwinana, Western Australia, is now a flourishing indigenous garden that acknowledges the Aboriginal land on which CSBP’s Sodium Cyanide plant is located.

The Wanju Biddi garden project is an important part of CSBP’s reconciliation journey that offers a colourful and warm welcome to site for new and existing Aboriginal team members.  It is wonderful projects such as this, along with an inclusive workplace and highly supportive team members who walk the talk and actively model the values of being an inclusive employer, that attract and retain Aboriginal employees at CSBP.

The Sodium Cyanide business unit proudly boasts a high representation of Aboriginal employees, leading the WesCEF organisation with 7.2 per cent of its workforce identifying as Aboriginal, and the garden ensures their culture is acknowledged and celebrated when they arrive at work each day.

Situated at the entrance to the plant, the garden pays homage to surrounding native vegetation traditionally used by Aboriginal people for food and medicine and the significant relationship Noongar people have to the land and the local area.

CSBP’s Aboriginal team members guided the start of the project by providing input on the concept, landscape design and signage artwork. Collaboration was also sought from a local Aboriginal artist and Aboriginal contractors who share connections to the land.

Noongar artist Tyrown Waigana was engaged to deliver welcome signage that demonstrated the connection of the Sodium Cyanide plant to the local area. He created the garden’s welcome artwork in consultation with CSBP’s Aboriginal employees who requested animals from the local area such as stingrays, lizards and seagulls be included in the design, to highlight the significance of the plant’s coastal location.

Importantly, the signage welcomes employees in both Noongar language and English, with Noongar words also featured on a series of totem poles highlighting the values of a healthy heart, healthy mind and healthy spirit. The totem poles, manufactured by Aboriginal business Deadly Sista Print and Design, are visual messages designed as a welcome and acknowledgement of culture, and recognising that CSBP is located on Whadjuk country.

The garden’s landscape design was created by Indigenous Economic Solutions, owned by local Whadjuk woman Karen Jacobs, who selected flora for its significance to the region and incorporated a yarning circle where employees can meet and chat, or just sit and reflect.

Having culturally connected artworks and a yarning circle on the site not only provides a welcoming place and sense of connection for Aboriginal employees, but it enhances the knowledge, understanding and respect of all employees for Aboriginal culture.