Serving community

TAC looks back on 50 years of serving community

by Duncan Bailey,The Examiner, Thursday, 6 July 2023

From two volunteers in an office, the Launceston branch of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre has come a long way.

The Aboriginal Information Service was founded in Hobart in 1973, and later became the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

TAC northern regional manager, Lisa Coulson said the adversity overcome in the early days of the TAC show the commitment of the Aboriginal community to want an organisation to represent them.

“From its small beginnings in Tamar Street… to today with over 240 staff shows the growth of the organisation and the need within the Aboriginal community for the support of the programs that we deliver,” Ms Coulson said.

She said looking back 50 years, the TAC in its early days faced heavy discrimination and racism.

“A lot has changed in society since then. And of course, there can always be further improvements made in education around Aboriginal people as the first people of not only Lutruwita, but Australia,” she said.

TAC achievements include the negotiation of Aboriginal land returns in 1995, 1999, and 2005, retrieval and revival of Tasmanian Aboriginal language and the return of ancestral remains from overseas and Australian institutions.

“In 1989, the Aboriginal Children’s Centre was also opened in Hobart and prior to that there was a playgroup delivered for Aboriginal families and children which was highly valued as it still is today,” Ms Coulson said.

She said the Launceston Aboriginal Health Service that started in 1992 had also Graham dramatically over the years, and now provided a broad range of Aboriginal health services, including GPs, nurses, and allied health services to the Aboriginal community.

The TAC has already ticked off a few celebratory events this year, including the Putalina festival, a music festival held in Tasmania’s south that also acts as a time for the Aboriginal community statewide to come together.

“There was also the Invasion Day Rally on January 26, and in March we celebrated a 30-year anniversary of the palawa kani language program which is the language of Tasmanian Aborigines.

A list of NAIDOC week events is on the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre’s website.