The ceremony, led by respected Nyungar Elder Dr Noel Nannup, was part of the official welcome for the centre's new director, Professor Rhonda Marriott, and marks the start of a new chapter for Kulbardi.
Professor Marriott said: “Smoking ceremonies have been practised for thousands of years and are designed to encompass the culture and spirituality of the Nyungar people. In the ceremony, specially selected leaves are smouldered on a small fire. The smoke purifies the area and can ward off bad spirits.
“For us it signifies that those associated with Kulbardi have come together as family and friends and celebrates the value of the centre to Murdoch and the wider community.
“We also raised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to represent the core purpose of Kulbardi, in nurturing students and providing them with 'wings to fly'.”
Murdoch Vice Chancellor Gary Martin said Kulbardi was important because it provided support for Indigenous students and gave them pathways into university education. It also allowed Indigenous culture and experience to be shared with non-Indigenous students.
He added: “I really think that what Kulbardi is all about is to nurture the development of Indigenous leaders, not only for Murdoch University but also for the entire community. It is about supporting Indigenous leadership.”
Professor Martin also announced plans for a Kulbardi Festival to celebrate Indigenous culture.
The Centre was established in 1988 as the Aboriginal Education Unit. In 1996 it was relaunched as Kulbardi, a tribute to the late Munyari – Elder Ralph Winmar – who gave his respected counsel for the name, which means 'magpie' in the Nyungar language.