Expanded Aboriginal advisory council to complete World Heritage cultural study

2 November 2015, ABC news

url: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-02/expanded-aboriginal-advisory-council-to-complete-world-heritage/6905920
Expanded Aboriginal advisory council to complete World Heritage cultural study
2 November 2015  6:09pm
An expanded interim Aboriginal Heritage Council has been given the task of conducting a major cultural study in the World Heritage Area.
The Government has announced the council will become a permanent body and be expanded from six to 10 members, with members from four more Aboriginal groups.
The council provides advice on protection and management of cultural values.
The Government said it was committed to ensuring Aboriginal people led the ongoing management of their cultural heritage and representation from all community groups was vital.
Chairman Rocky Sainty said the revised council would continue with its roles, as well as overseeing the WHA cultural values study.
In July, the United National’s world heritage committee criticised the Tasmanian Government’s planned changes for the WHA, saying the cultural value of the area had not been properly surveyed.
Several groups had been lobbying the State Government to carry out the survey, including the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.
Aboriginal activist Rodney Dillon said the new expanded council was best placed to do it.
“It’s in contact with all organisations and all organisations are being invited to be involved and we’ve never had that before,” he said.
“I fear one group doing it probably wouldn’t consult with all the groups, so I feel that if you’ve got all the groups together, it’s like a state council.
“It gives a wider range of Aboriginal people in the state to talk to.”
“We haven’t had this opportunity as local organisations to have a say before, it looks like now in the World Heritage Area, all Aboriginal groups in the state will have a say.”
Mr Dillon is chairman of the recently formed Tasmanian Regional Communities Alliance which represents eight Aboriginal groups.
He praised the Government’s decision.
“The State Government has talked about re-setting the relationship with all Aboriginal people in the state, I think that’s what it’s doing,” he said.
“It’s still going to be hard for whoever does this work – it’s not going to be easy work to do – so I think it’s important that all Aboriginal organisations do have a say in what goes on.”
The four new members of the heritage council will be nominated by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, Southeast Tasmanian Aboriginal Council, Six Rivers Aboriginal Corporation and melythina tiakana warrana Aboriginal Corporation.
Aboriginal elder, Aunty Patsy, from the melythina tiakana warrana Aboorignal Corporation, also welcomed the announcement.
“It’s an amazing outcome and a positive response to the Premier’s commitment to re-setting the agenda for more inclusive relationships with Tasmania’s Aboriginal people,” she said.
“It is the way forward that we work together with all groups and government.”
Cultural study branded an attempt to ‘curry favour’But Trudy Maluga from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre said the expansion of the council and its investigation were an attempt to control the issues.
“This is a beginning of a tactic for the Government to control an Aboriginal voice, to invite a whole range of organisations in, to curry favour with the Government,” she said.
“Asking us to join with those other groups is absolutely laughable.
“If this is the way it’s going to be, we’ll bypass the Government and we’ll go as an independent, and contact the international monitoring committee ourselves and we’ll meet with them independently.”
Ms Maluga said her centre already had the people on the ground with the necessary expertise.
“This is our heritage, we’re the ones to do that assessment, and we’re going to have to talk to that international monitoring committee ourselves… without the Government.
“We as an independent would have given the true assessment of what was in that area, not necessarily what the Government wants to hear.”