Newsletter 1/2021

1. Black Hands to Commemorate Deaths in Custody over last 30 years
The Aboriginal  Tent Embassy and ANTaR ACT mounted a display of Black Hands , from the well-known ‘Sea of Hands’ installations,  in memory of the 474 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have died in custody over the last 30 years.
Thursday 15 April was the 30th anniversary of the handing down of the final report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, with its 339 recommendations.  Since then, the proportion of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people incarcerated has almost doubled, and deaths in custody continue – with five in recent weeks.

Aboriginal imprisonment in the ACT has grown by 279 per cent between 2009 and 2019, more than any other state, according to the Productivity Commission, so the issue is urgent at a local level. Tent Embassy protestors have welcomed ANTaR ACT’s initiative to highlight the need for Indigenous incarceration rates to be reduced in the ACT and nationally, and deaths in custody to stop. The Hands were installed at the Tent Embassy in front of the Museum of Democracy for the day.

Many of the Royal Commission’s recommendations have not been implemented, particularly Recommendation 188, to apply the principle of self-determination in any policy or program involving Aboriginal or Torres Strat Islander people.
ANTaR ACT spokeswoman, Rita Metzenrath said, “Enabling self-determination would change the conditions that lead to so many Indigenous people being incarcerated. Reducing incarceration rates and improving Indigenous health are key priorities for this nation. Early and unnecessary deaths of First Nations people – whether in custody or elsewhere – are all too frequent, and are a shame on our nation.”

2.  Lest We Forget Frontier Wars March on ANZAC Day – see full information including contacts in the 5th image above.

3. Close the Gap Campaign Report Policy Brief March 2021 – Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping our Mob safe
The report features examples in addressing the most complex of challenges, including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic; the increasing need for social and emotional well-being services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as a result of these events; as well as the pre-existing effects of colonisation and inter-generational trauma.
 For more information see Close the Gap (2021) | Australian Human Rights Commission

4. 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report. In her foreword to the Report
Shelley Reys AO says:“Let’s celebrate the progress outlined in the 2021 report and take action on the data and the crucial focus areas it illustrates. Let’s take an unapologetic, brave stance on racism to propel us faster towards a reconciled nation. Only then can we once again look in the mirror and rejoice in what we have become.”
 The Summary Report is available at state-of-reconciliation-2021-summary-report_web.pdf
5. Indigenous Walk: Harvest Day Out on 18 April 202. Join Ngunnawal custodian Mr Wally Bell on a walk at Lanyon Homestead to learn about Aboriginal connection to the area and the Murrumbidgee River. Discover the significance of the Canoe Tree to the Ngunnawal people and what its presence here tells us of the strong community that lived within the cultural landscape. Tours at 10.30am and 1pm.
Venue: Tharwa Dr, Tharwa. Start time: 10.30 am. End time: 12.00 am
Cost: Adult $30 Member $25 Contact: 6237 6500
Email:  Website:

6. National Reconciliation Week 27 May to 3 June. The 2021 theme is “More Than a Word. Reconciliation Takes Action. More information is at Home – National Reconciliation Week 2021

7. Bangarra Dance Theatre presents SandSong: Stories from the Great Sandy Desert,  Canberra Theatre,15–17 July 2021. Under the vast Kimberley sky, the red pindan dust stretches across the desert homelands of the Walmajarri, where the ancient knowledge of People and of Country is preserved through Songlines that have endured for hundreds of generations. At the heart of this land is the Living Water – Jila – that resides in desert waterholes across the region and is the basis of cultural beliefs and practices. SandSong tells the unique story of this Place and the survival of its People. For more information and tickets see SandSong: Stories from the Great Sandy Desert | Canberra Theatre Centre

8. Book Review Truth Telling. Henry Reynold’s latest book, Truth Telling: History, Sovereignty and the Uluru Statement, is essential reading for every Australian.  Reynolds examines the Uluru statement’s position that First Peoples’ sovereignty still co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown, drawing on many documents and letters from the time of initial European arrival on our shores. He also revisits the High Court’s Mabo case of 1992 in his quest to lay out where things stand today on the sovereignty question.  This is a profoundly important book which examines the (il)legality of the British claim on Australian land, according to international law of the time, given the erroneous view that the interior of Australia was terra nullius. But he goes on to challenge all Australians for our part in this continuing denial of history. Canvassing debates about January 26th and the memorialisation of war, Henry Reynolds’ book brings together an abundance of evidence that supports the case of First Peoples articulated so powerfully in the Uluru Statement, and points the way forward. The book is a paperback, published by New South Books in 2021. Price: $34.99.
9. Next ANTaR ACT Committee Meeting is Monday 10th May @ 6pm. If you would like more information about this or future committee meetings then please email

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