Since the unsuccessful Voice referendum eight months ago, many Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, media commentators and members of the public have been heard to ask 'what next?' Linda Burney is the Minister for Indigenous Australians and her speech last Thursday to the AIATSIS Summit in Melbourne provides an official answer.

AIATSIS is the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and it is based in Canberra, right next to the National Museum of Australia. There was also a media release with more detail on the revised plans for the Ngurra Cultural Precinct.

The main points in the Minister's speech and the media release:

The revamped Ngurra will be a cultural precinct on Acton Peninsula in Canberra, adjacent to AIATSIS and near the National Museum.
'Ngurra, meaning "home", "country" or "place of belonging", will be a place where Australians and international visitors have the opportunity to learn, experience and engage with over 65,000 years of culture, tradition, and story.'
AIATSIS will be expanded to include a National Indigenous Knowledge and Cultural Centre.
A National Resting Place will house First Nations ancestral remains that have no provenance, including those still to be returned to Country.
'The referendum may have been a setback. But progress is not a straight line. With each passing generation we do our bit to nudge things in the direction of progress.'
We need more First Nations people involved directly in decision-making and management.
The government is committed to treaty and truth-telling and notes significant progress in the states and territories.
'As I talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country I am humbled – That despite everything we've been through. The dispossession, the massacres and the discrimination – There is a deep generosity of spirit. An immutable determination not just to survive – but to thrive. To continue to celebrate – and yes, to share – our culture and history. To tell our nation's story – In full, with all its complexity. It's an unfair burden. But one that we carry in the vision of a better future for our children. And for the whole country.'

There was no indication in either document of any plans to recognise and commemorate the Australian Frontier Wars in the Ngurra precinct rather than at the Australian War Memorial. Background on this issue (look for references to Ngurra and to the wording of the Australian War Memorial Council decision of 19 August 2022).

See also: Minister interviewed by Karen Barlow for The Saturday Paper; The Uluru Statement next steps.

Photo credit: Wikipedia/PMC/Creative Commons

Jun 7, 2024

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