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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11471


Mr CREWTHER (Dunkley) (11:33): I'm very pleased today to be here to support this motion from the member for Brisbane. I note that the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies is a magnificent organisation that does a terrific job not only locally here in Canberra but for our Indigenous people, culture, languages and more across Australia. It aims not only to look at the history, culture and languages of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but also to strengthen the culture, traditions and knowledge—such as language—for generations to come. It supports and facilitates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural resurgence and is helping to reshape the national narrative.

Established in 1964, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, AIATSIS, focuses on preserving, enhancing and bringing awareness to as many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditional cultures, languages and traditions as possible, particularly to ensure that they are not lost and that they are maintained and enhanced for future generations. Fortunately, 54 years on, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies has proved the importance of continuing the story and vibrancy of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the importance of their part in Australia's history.

As the member for Brisbane mentioned, I formerly worked at AIATSIS, managing a team of six people on a research project for a number of months, covering Indigenous communities across the Northern Territory and Queensland. I learnt a lot in this role and it greatly helped to shape my understanding of Indigenous culture, languages and traditions and also of the important role AIATSIS has in influencing and informing government policy.

I congratulate AIATSIS also on the release of their strategic plan 2018-2023, which they unveiled in Parliament House on 15 October. Their strategic plan is ambitious, and I applaud them on the dedication and effort they have put into the development of it. I trust that from here on it will continue going from strength to strength.

Together with the Australian government, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies are furthering the understanding of Australian Indigenous cultures past and present through undertaking and publishing research, preserving the history of their remarkable collection and more. That includes, in my electorate of Dunkley, with the Boonwurrung of the Kulin nation. We are proud of our local Indigenous community. As many people would know, the percentage of our electorate made up by the Indigenous community is higher than the state average and, indeed, higher even than the national average. I am very proud to have supported locally the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation—for example, with a $50,000 grant recently through Landcare Australia as well as a stronger communities grant for Nairm Marr Djambana for a wet room and other resources—to help preserve our local Indigenous culture, traditions and community.

I note also the friendship created through the Parliamentary Friends of AIATSIS. With our co-convenors, this has resulted in great advocacy from and with the institute and more understanding by colleagues across the parliament and beyond. The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies' plan has also outlined their strong plan going forward. That includes a new state-of-the-art home for AIATSIS that is a national forum for transformational cross-cultural engagement and shared learning; the Songlines project, which is working with communities to ensure and secure song traditions; resources for the teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage in schools; a leading-edge, engaging web presence and potential physical presence beyond Canberra; and more.

I congratulate all who are part of AIATSIS and those who are working with it to raise awareness of the great work that is being done. I note in particular some of the amazing work that I saw when working there, in the language space and in preserving the songs, languages and more, which I hope we can enhance and teach, going forwards, not only in Indigenous communities across Australia but in the wider community, so we can gain a better understanding of Indigenous languages, as well as of Indigenous cultures, right across Australia.

Lastly, I commend the work of AIATSIS and the way they're helping to forge a national identity that embraces, celebrates and preserves the unique culture and traditions of Australia's First People. I thank once again the member for Brisbane for moving this important motion.