Our past, our culture and our heritage form part of our present life as Aboriginal people.

The care and protection of Tasmanian Aboriginal Heritage and Culture is Important to all Tasmanians as well.

Parents, grandparents and so many more in an ancient line of ancestors, have taught us how our heritage informs and forms who we are as Aboriginal people today. It is not only our birthright but also our birth responsibility to care for and protect our Aboriginal cultural knowledge and heritage for future generations.

Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage is precious and rare. It is ONLY found in Tasmania unlike colonial heritage that can be found all around the world, Our heritage by its very nature is endemic to Tasmania and therefore valuable beyond compare.

Tasmanians recognise the valuable contribution that our culture and heritage has to offer and the urgent need for appropriate protection.

With widespread agreement that the Aboriginal Relics Act 1975 is inherently racist, the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and our supporters called for a standard of protection for Our Heritage that was equal to that offered European/Colonial heritage.

It was with great hope that we expected and worked for replacement legislation that would be progressive and finally acknowledge the sacred connection and relationship Aboriginal people have with our own heritage and culture. With great optimism and extensive hard work from limited resources, we embarked on a journey to work in a meaningful way to give clear guidance to the Government as to our aspirations.

What is presented before the Parliament today fails to achieve the Aboriginal community’s core fundamental aspiration of a progressive legislation that dignifies the Aboriginal people and recognises our inherent rights.

I ask the Parliament where in this bill is the mutual respect and honouring of self-determination as declared by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights? We as a Community have been silenced by this Bill. What is said to be for the “protection” of our heritage does not even recognise our special rights to that heritage, nor protect our rights to practice our culture. We have less rights under this Bill than we do under the old and outdated Aboriginal Relics Act.

We were greatly concerned by the Green / Labour Government determination to go against the advice of the Aboriginal Community and to impose on us an indignity that we simply will not bear.

We asked for ownership and management of our heritage including the register of sites maintained by the government instrumentality, Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania. Not only did we not get that, but this Bill gives greater rights of access to that register to developers than it does to our own people.

This bill not only jeopardises our cultural responsibility but also has the potential for Aboriginal people to be charged for participating in cultural practices and holding family knowledge. This is simply unacceptable.

We call on members of the Parliament to vote down this bill and relieve us from the shame and dishonour of having imposed upon us a legislation we do not want.

The Government and the state of Tasmania can do better. We are a patient people who hold onto hope and a vision for our future which truly recognises our cultural rights and responsibilities to care and protect our unique and valuable heritage.

Please toss out this Bill and let’s start the process again, this time with a truly open heart and commitment to honour a precious and uniquely Tasmanian cultural heritage.
Our past, our culture and our heritage form part of our present life as Aboriginal people.

The care and protection of Tasmanian Aboriginal Heritage and Culture is Important to all Tasmanians as well.

Parents, grandparents and so many more in an ancient line of ancestors, have taught us how our heritage informs and forms who we are as Aboriginal people today. It is not only our birthright but also our birth responsibility to care for and protect our Aboriginal cultural knowledge and heritage for future generations.

Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage is precious and rare. It is ONLY found in Tasmania unlike colonial heritage that can be found all around the world, Our heritage by its very nature is endemic to Tasmania and therefore valuable beyond compare.

Tasmanians recognise the valuable contribution that our culture and heritage has to offer and the urgent need for appropriate protection.

With widespread agreement that the Aboriginal Relics Act 1975 is inherently racist, the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and our supporters called for a standard of protection for Our Heritage that was equal to that offered European/Colonial heritage.

It was with great hope that we expected and worked for replacement legislation that would be progressive and finally acknowledge the sacred connection and relationship Aboriginal people have with our own heritage and culture. With great optimism and extensive hard work from limited resources, we embarked on a journey to work in a meaningful way to give clear guidance to the Government as to our aspirations.

What is presented before the Parliament today fails to achieve the Aboriginal community’s core fundamental aspiration of a progressive legislation that dignifies the Aboriginal people and recognises our inherent rights.

I ask the Parliament where in this bill is the mutual respect and honouring of self-determination as declared by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights? We as a Community have been silenced by this Bill. What is said to be for the “protection” of our heritage does not even recognise our special rights to that heritage, nor protect our rights to practice our culture. We have less rights under this Bill than we do under the old and outdated Aboriginal Relics Act.

We were greatly concerned by the Green / Labour Government determination to go against the advice of the Aboriginal Community and to impose on us an indignity that we simply will not bear.

We asked for ownership and management of our heritage including the register of sites maintained by the government instrumentality, Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania. Not only did we not get that, but this Bill gives greater rights of access to that register to developers than it does to our own people.

This bill not only jeopardises our cultural responsibility but also has the potential for Aboriginal people to be charged for participating in cultural practices and holding family knowledge. This is simply unacceptable.

We call on members of the Parliament to vote down this bill and relieve us from the shame and dishonour of having imposed upon us a legislation we do not want.

The Government and the state of Tasmania can do better. We are a patient people who hold onto hope and a vision for our future which truly recognises our cultural rights and responsibilities to care and protect our unique and valuable heritage.

Please toss out this Bill and let’s start the process again, this time with a truly open heart and commitment to honour a precious and uniquely Tasmanian cultural heritage.

12 November 2013

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