Wadawurrung Traditional Owners joined the City, developer Quintessential Equity and the wider Civic Precinct project team today in a small, COVID-safe site blessing and cleansing ceremony to celebrate the beginning of construction of the new precinct at 137 Mercer Street. The ceremony was followed by a sod turning.
While works began in August the celebration event was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. The small gathering followed COVID-19 safety requirements, with masks and social distancing in place.
The ceremony with Wadawurrung highlights our commitment to meaningful engagement with the Aboriginal community and respect of Aboriginal cultural, heritage and connection to country. Attendees took part in a traditional cleansing ceremony by Traditional Owners on Wadawurrung country.
The City and developer partner Quintessential Equity have been engaged in a co-design process based on the International Indigenous Design Charter with Traditional Owners and Geelong’s local Aboriginal community for the past two years to incorporate meaningful representation of Wadawurrung culture and heritage into the design of the precinct.
The engagement, which has seen Traditional Owners working closely with design and landscape architects, has included several face-to-face and virtual consultation sessions. Design outcomes and ideas include the incorporation of Wadawurrung language in areas of the precinct, and consulting with Traditional Owners on colour schemes and other design elements.
Construction of the $220 million precinct will be funded by the City and Quintessential Equity and is expected to create around 900 jobs in a significant boost for the local economy. The project is also exceeding its local procurement target with 70 per cent of construction packages awarded to local companies to date.
The Civic Precinct will allow the City to consolidate seven offices into one new purpose-built energy efficient building. Once complete, the new offices will save the City $2 million per year in rent and energy costs alone.
The precinct will also feature co-working areas, end-of-trip facilities, café and retail. Its design includes a new laneway connection from Mercer Street to Bayley Street. A second office building owned by Quintessential Equity will add high-quality office space for another 900 CBD workers.
The City, Quintessential Equity and builder Watpac are signatories of the G21 Region Opportunities for Work (GROW) Compact – an initiative focused on maximising economic and social outcomes in Geelong by creating new jobs and opportunities for people experiencing disadvantage.
The City’s new office will achieve the highest environmental standards in design, energy, waste and water usage including a six-star Green Star design rating as part of the city’s ambitions to position Geelong as a leader in innovative and sustainable business, in line with our community-led Clever and Creative 30-year vision for our region. It is expected to be completed mid-year 2022.
Quote attributed to Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher:
Creating a precinct which celebrates and showcases our region’s strong Aboriginal history and culture has been a central aspiration of the Civic Precinct from the beginning.
It was an honour to be welcomed onto Wadawurrung land and to celebrate the opportunities a project like this will bring to our region.
It’s our hope that through this process we’re setting a high benchmark for how a co-design process can work to achieve meaningful, long-term outcomes with Traditional Owners, and we look forward to sharing the design outcomes in the near future.
Quote attributed to Councillor Anthony Aitken, Chair, Finance portfolio:
With the potential of up to 900 construction jobs created and strong local procurement targets, this council project will provide opportunities and investment in our local economy at a time when we are trying to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quote attributed to Corrina Eccles, Wadawurrung Traditional Owner
Cleansing is the start of moving soil on Country and the Blessing brings good spirits to move forward with construction.
The journey we have taken on this project over the past two years hasn’t been possible without walking together. I acknowledge the work and commitment from the City of Greater Geelong, staff and partners to incorporate Wadawurrung culture and language into the precinct’s design, art and story.
The smoking ceremony on Wadawurrung country today will bring good spirits to each and every one present and the precinct.
Quote attributed to Shane Quinn, Executive Chairman, Quintessential Equity
Today we signify our commitment to working together with Council and the land’s traditional custodians to create a space that is a true reflection of the inclusive, thriving, culturally rich hub that Geelong is. We have valued the opportunity to collaborate and we are thrilled to be contributing to an efficient and considered future for Geelong.
Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has presented, we’re really proud that works are progressing ahead of schedule and we are able to create local opportunities on the ground. The $220 million investment that is being made here represents an ongoing commitment to the Geelong region and we are so proud to be a part of this city-defining project.
Sustainable, accessible and honouring community, culture and heritage, this project encapsulates our values to the core, and we’re excited to see it starting to take shape.