Decision on SA Aboriginal cultural centre kicked into next year

A state government decision on the stalled Tarrkarri Aboriginal cultural centre on North Terrace has been delayed until the new year, as the search continues for philanthropic funding for a project which could cost up to $600 million.

Dec 18, 2023, updated Dec 18, 2023
Advertising for the stalled Aboriginal cultural centre on North Terrace. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Advertising for the stalled Aboriginal cultural centre on North Terrace. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

In September, Premier Peter Malinauskas said state cabinet would like to decide the future of the Tarrkarri Centre for First Nations Cultures by the end of the the year.

The project, initially costed at $200m and to be built on part of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site, was put on hold in October 2022 after the managing contractor advised of a $50 million cost blow-out and warned the building would only be of “local state-level standard”.

The Malinauskas Government then appointed a panel led by former Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt, former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr and Reserve Bank board member Carolyn Hewson to review the project.

The panel recommended the government spend “multitudes of $200 million” – potentially between $400 million to $600 million – to make Tarrkarri an internationally significant centre.

In September, Malinauskas said there were still “a number of issues” to work through related to Tarrkarri’s cost but “we would like to land a position on this before the end of the calendar year”. 

But asked by InDaily at a press conference this morning whether that was feasible, the Premier said the decision has been “pushed into the new year”.

“This is a big decision that the government has to contemplate, there’s a range of different options that we’re turning out minds to in terms of the way it can be financed,” he said.

“We had hoped that we might land a position before the end of the year, but now it’s likely to be the new year.”

Asked if a philanthropic funding model was still the option being explored, Malinauskas said: “That’s being contemplated, yes.”

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The Premier said earlier this year said that the project’s future could “potentially” hinge on whether the government secures philanthropic funding.

Advertising for the stalled Aboriginal cultural centre on North Terrace earlier in 2023. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

The Wyatt, Carr and Hewson review panel provided their Tarrkarri recommendations to state cabinet in April.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet also commissioned another review of the project from Andrew McEvoy, a former CEO of Tourism Australia and the South Australian Tourism Commission, on how Tarrkarri can attract tourists and drive “repeat visitation” to the centre.

The former Marshall Government estimated between 485,000 and 581,000 people would visit the centre in its first year, with the figure estimated to increase to up to 665,000 people by 2040.

Tarrkarri was initially scheduled to open in early 2025 and was expected to display pieces sourced from the SA Museum, Art Gallery and State Library collections – the majority of which is currently kept in storage – alongside new digital and performing arts displays that would tell the story of Australia’s First Nations peoples.

Original plans showed the building would span 12,500 square metres over three levels, which would make it bigger than the SA Museum and Art Gallery combined and one of Australia’s largest cultural institutions.

Topics: Tarrkarri
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