ANTaR ACT Newsletter – May 2022

Welcome to the May 2022 edition of the ANTaR ACT newsletter. May is another busy month with the upcoming Federal Election on 21 May and National Reconciliation Week on 27 May – 3 June. Keep reading for more news on the happenings in the ACT and around the nation.

Antar News

ANTaR ACT
Our next committee meeting will be on Monday 6th June 6pm via Zoom. If you would like to join us, please email at info@antaract.org.au and we will send you details.

ACT Legislation to Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility Has Stalled:  As noted in a Canberra Times article written by Lucy Bladen on 16 May 2022, the ACT government has refused to say when legislation to Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility will be put forward, despite an earlier declaration that laws would be introduced early in 2022. 

Our understanding is the ACT Government Labor-Greens power-sharing agreement has committed to raising the age of criminal responsibility, but it does not specify an age.  The other states are only considering raising the age to 12 years following a meeting of attorneys-general last year where it was agreed to support the development of a proposal to increase the age.

Since that meeting there has been very little public movement on Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility in the ACT.  Mr Rattenbury said he would continue to pursue a raising of the age to 14 for the Territory following the agreement from the States.  ACT Policing has called for the age to be raised to only 12, saying there was a group of 13- to 14-year-olds who were engaged in “serious and violent offending” and there were concerns the group would continue this behaviour without fear of repercussions.

Meanwhile a new report on the ACT’s Bimberi Youth Justice Centre showed in the most recent quarter there were four young people aged between 10 – 13 years in the centre.

If you agree that Legislation to Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility has been delayed or stalled, then please email the relevant ministers to voice your concerns.

  • Chief Minister Andrew Barr.  barr@act.gov.au
  • Attorney General Shane Rattenbury.  rattenbury@act.gov.au
  • Minister for Corrections, Mick Gentleman.  gentleman@act.gov.au
  • Minister for Family and Community Services  Rachel Stephens-Smith.  stephen-smith@act.gov.au
  • Minister for Youth Justice Emma Davidson.  davidson@act.gov.au

If you’d like to read more about reasons why we shouldn’t be locking up children in prison, including medical evidence from a coalition of health organisations, you can find some here:  https://www.raisetheage.org.au/resources 

South Coast Aboriginal Fishing Rights Group: When the 2020 bushfires devastated Mogo and the surrounding area, the South Coast Aboriginal Fishing Rights group lost an important machine required to issue cards for native title holders to carry with them when fishing / collecting at the coast in case they are approached by Fisheries Officers.  The machine was in the Mogo Local Aboriginal Land Council office when it burned down, and all the contents were destroyed. The group has been seeking to raise $3,700 to fund the replacement of the machine before the upcoming Native Title Claimants meeting in July. ANTaR ACT has agreed to donate $1,000 towards this with other contributions coming from the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and Oxfam Australia. The Fishing Rights Group is also active in a NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into why the 2009 Cultural Fishing.

Amendment to the Fisheries Management Act was never enacted and implemented, leaving traditional fishers with only their native title rights to fish, which the NSW Government seems reluctant to recognise and honour. For more information, read here: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7534248/when-culture-is-a-crime-fishing-on-the-south-coast/

ANTaR National
Federal Election and Budget 2022: The Federal election has been called and will be held on 21 May. In the lead up to the election, ANTaR has produced a 2022 Federal Election Scorecard, providing a guide to the policies of the Liberal-National Coalition, the Australian Labor Party and the Greens, in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. In early 2022, ANTaR wrote to the major political parties, seeking their policies and election commitments relating to:

  1. CLOSING THE GAP – The Federal obligations to the New Agreement on Closing the Gap
  2. INJUSTICE AND INCARCERATION – Addressing the injustice of disproportionally high incarceration rates
  3. CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM – Including the implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart
  4. HERITAGE PROTECTION – Ensuring the protection of living culture and cultural landscapes

You can access the scorecard and read the full response from the major political parties here:  https://antar.org.au/2022-federal-election-scorecard

What’s Happening in Canberra & online

National Reconciliation Week
27 May – 3 June

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is on 27 May to 3 June and is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. The theme for 2022 is Be Brave. Make Change. It is a challenge to us all to Be Brave and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can Make Change for all. The brave characters by illustrator, Tori-Jay Mordey, show just some of the different faces of Australians working for a just and equal society.
Some of the NRW events include:

National Sorry Day
26 May
https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/stolen-generations#:~:text=In%201998%20thousands%20of%20Australians,as%20’the%20people’s%20apology’.
National Sorry Day is an Australia-wide observance held on May 26 each year.
This day gives people the chance to come together and share the steps towards healing for the Stolen Generations, their families and communities.

The Lake of Scars
28 May
National Film and Sound Archive
The Lake of Scars is a story of environment and heritage, water and culture. It is a story of generational change and an example of reconciliation between white and black Australians which asks which things we want to change, and what we want to remain the same. Here there exists a link to an ancient culture, unlike anywhere else Australia. One ageing farmer has spent decades identifying and caring for the scar trees and middens which dot the country, working with members of Yung Balug clan. As the clock ticks, an unlikely partnership could see it saved for future generations. Following the film, members of the filmmaking team including first-time director and former Guardian and Al Jazeera journalist Bill Code will join via video link for a Q&A session.

To mark Reconciliation Week, The Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research is supporting this screening with a free ticket giveaway. Just be one of the first four people to email morgan.harrington@anu.edu.au with the subject heading ‘Lake of Scars giveaway’ to win one of four double passes to the Canberra screening – 2pm, Saturday May 28th at the National Film and Sound Archive. Or purchase tickets here:https://www.nfsa.gov.au/events/lake-scars.

The National Film and Sound Archive is showing a range of other films during NRW. For more information visit: https://www.nfsa.gov.au/events/national-reconciliation-week-2022

Reconciliation Day Eve 2022
29 May
Canberra Theatre
https://canberratheatrecentre.com.au/show/reconciliation-day-eve-2022/
On the eve of Reconciliation Day, Canberra Theatre Centre is the place where some of the strongest voices in the country unite. Featuring the extraordinary talent of powerhouse rapper Briggs, soulful electronic music duo Electric Fields and the award winning singer Christine Anu, this is an event not to be missed for those who love Australian music and believe in its power to change the country for the better.

A service for National Reconciliation Week
29 May
Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture
This year the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity coincides with National Reconciliation Week. Please join the ACT Churches for an ecumenical service of reconciliation and healing. We invite all Canberra churches to reflect on how to listen to the Uluru “Statement from the Heart” and respond in real and practical ways. The service will include an act of repentance led by Making Peas/ce reconciliation ministry focussing on colonial era conflicts. For more information contact Rev Tim Watson: rector@holycrosshackett.org.au

National Reconciliation Day
30 May
National Arboretum
https://nrw.reconciliation.org.au/event/reconciliation-day-canberra/
The fifth annual Reconciliation Day in Canberra will be celebrated on Monday 30 May 2022 at the National Arboretum Canberra, 10am – 3pm. Reconciliation Day is part of National Reconciliation Week and is a time for all Canberrans to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievement, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
Program details coming soon

National Reconciliation Week
Various dates
Australian National University
https://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/nrw2022-national-reconciliation-week
National Reconciliation Week is an important time for the ANU community to learn about and celebrate Australian First Nations peoples, their histories and cultures, and to explore how each of us can contribute to the reconciliation movement. This year’s theme is “Be Brave. Make Change,” – a challenge to all of us to tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation to drive change for the benefit of Australian society. To celebrate this special week, the ANU will hold a number of events to honour First Nations peoples.

Fireside Chat with Ngunawal Elder Wally Bell
27 May
https://www.anu.edu.au/events/fireside-chat-with-uncle-wally-bell
Beside a fire pit located on the Acton campus, ANU and listen to Ngunawal Elder Wally Bell share stories and enlighten people about Indigenous history on Fri 27 May 2022, 12–1.30pm.  Wally will meet everyone at Forestry building and Frank Fenner building- Forestry Fire pit. 

2022 National Reconciliation Week Lecture at the ANU
3 June
https://www.anu.edu.au/events/2022-national-reconciliation-week-lecture
The 2022 National Reconciliation Week Lecture will be held on Friday 3rd June at 3pm  Letitia Hope, Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Policy and Programs at the National Indigenous Australians Agency and a proud Bundjalung (Northern Rivers NSW), Torres Strait Islander and South Pacific Islander woman will deliver the University’s 2022 annual National Reconciliation Week Lecture.  

ANTaR ACT wish to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which Canberra is situated, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people. We wish to acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region. We would also like to acknowledge other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may visit this area.

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