Alliance formed to fight government’s proposed Aboriginal Heritage Amendments

Wednesday, 11 February

The Aboriginal Heritage Action Alliance, an Indigenous group formed with support from former federal politicians, senior archaeologists and anthropologists, held its first meeting on 9th February to discuss a united opposition to the State government’s proposed Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Act.

The proposed amendments will give more power to the Department and newly-created CEO to make decisions with regards to Aboriginal heritage whilst effectively stripping the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee of any real powers and removing a requirement in the act to consult traditional owners or allow them right of appeal.

WA Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC was the only standing politician to attend the meeting.

Mr Chapple said it was extremely encouraging to see such united grassroots support for the protection of Aboriginal heritage in Western Australia.

“The meeting was an overwhelming success,” he said.

“More than 50 people attended the event including former Liberal member for Stirling Ian Viner, former Greens Senator for WA Jo Vallentine and Indigenous elders and representatives from around the state, some of whom had travelled huge distances to be there.

“There is a still a lot of work that needs to be done, however it was very inspiring to see so many influential and passionate people dedicated to keeping up the fight.”

Mr Chapple said the proposed amendments were an attack on the cultural autonomy of all Aboriginal peoples in Western Australia.

“I look forward to continuing to do everything that I can to help support and inform this movement, and to protest the underlying racism and absolute disregard for Aboriginal heritage shown by the Barnett government,” Mr Chapple said.

Motions that came out of the meeting were:

·        No confidence in the current DAA Executive’s management of Aboriginal cultural heritage in WA.

·        Calls on the State Government to withdraw its current AHA Amendment Bill and for Parliament to establish a Parliamentary Select Committee to properly review the AHA and the administration of Aboriginal heritage in WA, as per previous statements by the KLC & YMAC.

·        This group condemns the lack of Aboriginal representation, and the lack of recognition and respect for Aboriginal traditional lore, culture and custom evidenced in the State Government’s drafting of the AHA Amendment Bill.

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

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