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Dreamworld blow as owners seek return of 'Corroboree' material


Dreamworld, which remains closed as it faces the triple blows of coronavirus, criminal charges and being sued by its own shareholders, is now facing calls from indigenous leaders to give back the material that makes up its renowned Corroboree exhibition.

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In a new problem for the theme park, Yugambeh Region Aboriginal Corporation Alliance chairman Ted Williams said the indigenous community was the rightful owner of the stories, films and artefacts at the award-winning Corroboree attraction, and wanted the material back.

“If Dreamworld doesn’t go well and if we find ourselves as part of, or associated with, a group that are not looking too good going forward, we don’t wish to let our stuff go with them, we’d like to have it returned to us,” Williams said.

“We believe that we are sharing it with them. We certainly think that we are the custodians, not just of the Yugambeh stuff in there, but we have stuff there from all over Australia and we think we need to be the people who take care of that.”

Dreamworld parent company Ardent Leisure is currently facing three charges and fines of up to $4.5 million over Australia’s worst theme park tragedy.

Queensland’s independent Work Health and Safety Prosecutor Aaron Guilfoyle filed the three charges in the Brisbane Magistrates Court under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 on 21 July over the 2016 Thunder River Rapids Ride tragedy that killed tourists Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi. The case will be mentioned in Southport Magistrates Court tomorrow, 29 July.
Ardent Leisure Group shareholders are also suing the company over its behaviour before and after the 2016 incident. They have launched a class action in the Federal Court to have Ardent Leisure compensate them for financial losses due to an inflated share price before, and the exacerbated losses since, the incident on the ride that was meant to be safe.
Dreamworld remains closed while other Gold Coast theme parks and major attractions have all largely re-opened to the public, and its future remains uncertain despite updates on the park’s website that the staged re-opening of Dreamworld and WhiteWater World will be in time for the September holidays.
Williams said it was this uncertainty that prompted the community to lay claim to the Corroboree material in the exhibit that opened in 2013 in partnership with the Yugambeh Museum and funding contributed by the Federal Government and Dreamworld.
“We have on our land we think a very worthwhile cultural activity that overseas visitors can enjoy. But at the same time, while we are very happy for it to be within Dreamworld, we still believe it’s ours,” Williams told ABC.

“And therefore, if things go wonky with Dreamworld, and I hope they don’t, what we would like to see is the Corroboree section of Dreamworld to be given back to us if the place doesn’t recover to a point where we can stay there.”

In a statement, the theme park said any decisions about the future direction of Corroboree would be in consultation with Indigenous elders.

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas

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