The Southern Aboriginal Corporation was formed in 1983 as a regional body to represent the interests of the 3,900 Noongar people of the South West of Western Australia. The Noongar people of this region tended to be in small isolated communities and SAC enable them to speak as one voice. With the assistance from the then Aboriginal Affairs Department (AAD) and the Aboriginal Development Commission (ADC), a constitution was drawn up and Southern Aboriginal Corporation became an incorporated body.
The need for such an organisation had been recognised for some time by a number of Aboriginal people in the region, and the impetus was provided when it became apparent that a parent organisation would be needed to negotiate on a regional basis on such issues as the Aboriginal Land Inquiry, and the Roman Catholic Church’s offer to hand over the former mission at Wandering to a responsible Aboriginal organisation.
Carrolup School 1945
Marribank- Katanning operated from 1915 to 1922 as a government settlement. Between 1940 and 1952 it was a residential farm training school for Aboriginal boys. Located 30 kilometres north-west of Katanning Marribank, also known as Carrolup, was reclassified from a mission to a native settlement in 1915.
The Corporation’s welfare role started to take shape early in 1985 with the employment of an Aboriginal Information Officer based in Bunbury. A survey of health, housing and population in the South West was conducted in November and December 1985, and a report compiled which contained recommendations for improving the delivery of health services to Noongar people.
A major focus of Southern Aboriginal Corporation throughout 1985 and 1986 was the future of the former St. Francis Xavier Mission at Wandering. Following a major submission, the property was formally handed over to the Noongar people of the South West, for their use and benefit. The new centre was called “Ngullah Mia” (which means our home in Noongar language).
Image: Certificate of Incorporation and Les and Aden Eades in 1986 with the handover of Wandering Farm to SAC
In May 1986, Southern Aboriginal Corporation established its headquarters in Albany.
In its short history, the Southern Aboriginal Corporation has made considerable advances and is recognised by both the Noongar community and government departments, as the most appropriate body to represent the interests of the Noongar people in the South West.
Today, Southern Aboriginal Corporation is the largest Aboriginal representative and resource agency in the Noongar Country region (MAP Here linked), which comprises the south-western corner of Australia. Its field of operations covers sixteen towns from Bunbury in the west, Brookton and Pingelly in the north, Albany in the south and eastward across to Kondinin. This is an area of more than 120,000 square kilometres. About 2,100 Aboriginal people live in this area, many of them in the smaller country towns. Southern Aboriginal Corporation is predominantly a grant funded body.
From the beginning, Southern Aboriginal Corporation has acted vigorously in pursuit of those objectives. Nowadays, it is involved in a wide range of programs and enterprises and carries out an important coordinating role for other Noongar organisations. The most significant Southern Aboriginal Corporation enterprises relate to the provision of housing. As a housing body, Southern Aboriginal Corporation aims to provide Noongar tenants with quality accommodation at economic but affordable rents. Southern Aboriginal Corporation currently owns 73 houses throughout the southwest region with an estimated value of around $4.5 million.
SAC has a strong and enduring commitment to the training and education of Noongars. It has been involved with the former ATSIC and other government departments in many training programs throughout the region. It is also concerned to see that suitable on‐the‐job training is provided for its Noongar staff.
The Corporation also owns 4,500 hectares of farmland at Ngullah Mia, near Wandering, and a further 1,600 hectares at Marribank, near Katanning. Both farm properties occupy land formerly gazetted as Aboriginal reserves.