Welcome to the first newsletter of 2022. Our focus for this edition is on the 50th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on 26 January. We also cover other local news, including our next meeting.
50th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy
Fifty years ago, four men under a beach umbrella protested for land rights. ANTaR ACT recognises the ongoing strength of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy (ATE) and the important role they have in holding our nation’s leaders to account.
Background: these two recent articles reflect on the significance of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy:
- A short history of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy – an indelible reminder of unceded sovereignty | Bronwyn Carlson and Lynda-June Coe | The Conversation
- How four men with a beach umbrella made history in the battle for Aboriginal sovereignty | Jennetta Quinn-Bates for IndigenousX | The Guardian
Information and events: More about the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and what is happening on and around 26 January.
- ATE has a new website: www.atesovereignty.com.au. You can subscribe to receive news or order a t-shirt. You can also follow ATE on Facebook: www.facebook.com/atesovereignty – lots of updates available here.
- Ghillar, Michael Anderson, one of the original four members of the original tent embassy, is also providing information through his National Unity Government website: www.nationalunitygovernment.org/content/agenda-overview-50th-anniversary-aboriginal-embassy.
- Following the events on the anniversary, he is leading a conference on decolonisation and First Nations’ self-determination, at Albert Hall on 27 January. See this event page for more information and tickets: www.eventbrite.com.au/e/where-to-from-here-decolonisation-sovereign-right-to-self-determination-tickets-244846250727.
Funding: You can provide financial support for the anniversary through the ATE 50th anniversary crowdfunding page at chuffed.org/pay/campaign/88103.
Site preparation: Huge tidying-up process is well underway. If you have time in the lead up period, you are welcome to drop by and see if you can lend a hand.
Protests at Old Parliament House: ATE has condemned the action of protestors who damaged property at Old Parliament House – see this statement: www.atesovereignty.com.au/post/official-statement and other updates on the ATE website.
Other ACT news
Ngurra: The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Precinct
The Australian Government has announced its commitment to establish a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural precinct in the heart of the national capital, Canberra (see the AIATSIS website: aiatsis.gov.au/ngurra). The Ngurra precinct will comprise two key elements:
- A National Resting Place to house and care for repatriated limited provenance ancestral remains and any associated cultural material on their journey back to Country.
- A Culture and Knowledge Centre where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia tells its own stories and celebrates the 65,000-year history of this nation. It will include education, exhibition and gallery space in a new fit-for-purpose home for AIATSIS.
Protection of culturally significant sites impacted by development
Two local sites subject to development have been in the news recently, with good news for one and not for the other.
- ANTaR ACT welcomes the good news that the NSW Government is going to protect culturally significant trees near the Barton Highway. For more information, see this story in the Canberra Times: www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7572052/protection-for-culturally-significant-trees-in-barton-hwy-upgrade-welcomed/.
- In late 2021, bulldozing of the former CSIRO site on Limestone Avenue destroyed ancient volcanic outcrops, which elder Shane Mortimer, a Nyamudy-Ngambri man, said contained petroglyphs, tools and man-made markings tens of thousands of years old. The land is subject to Commonwealth Government approvals rather than the ACT Government, as described in this article: www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7577444/my-hands-are-tied-minister-rues-lack-of-strong-heritage-protection-laws/
Raise the Age Coalition
At the very end of last year our coalition collectively won a Yogie! Check out the citation at: www.youthcoalition.net/yogieswinners/act-raise-the-age-coalition/. There is no way the ACT would be the first (and only) jurisdiction drafting legislation to Raise the Age if not for all of the coalition partners, including ANTaR ACT, working together. The feedback from MLAs is that it has been so effective having the sector speak with a unified voice.
From here, the responsible ACT government departments are working on practical implementation plans of how to raise the age including draft legislation. You can still help to make sure we get Raise the Age over the line: for example, use changetherecord.good.do/raisetheage/ACT/ to email your local MLA and share among your networks and social media .
Next ANTaR ACT meeting
Our first ANTaR ACT meeting for the year will be Monday 14 February, where we will plan our activities for the year, including following up on our advocacy with the ACT government and opposition. If you would like join us, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you the details. It is likely this meeting will be via Zoom rather than in person.