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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11474


Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle) (11:43): I too thank the member for Brisbane for bringing this important motion before the House today. I am very pleased to stand in support of this motion, which highlights the significance of the work of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies—or AIATSIS, as many of us know it. AIATSIS occupies an incredibly important role and place in our nation. It's a unique institution that sits at the nexus between First Nations peoples, the government, the cultural sector, academia and the broader Australian and international communities. AIATSIS is a critical national cultural institution—very deserving of additional support and resources from the government, I'd suggest. Its critical role in the protection, preservation and promotion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage can't be understated. The Australian story is indeed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander story, and that story is, of course, 65,000-plus years of continuity. We are in that incredibly unique place in the world where we have the world's longest continuing cultural practice. Sometimes that is taken for granted in Australia, and the work of AIATSIS reminds us why that should never be the case.

AIATSIS is responsible also for providing significant leadership and undertaking the premier Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research that is taking place in Australia. It maintains the most extraordinary collection of work, both academic and non-academic. In fact, as a young anthropologist, I spent many, many hours in AIATSIS reading collections that are so precious and require a place like AIATSIS to ensure their safekeeping. One of the great things that I admired at the time as a young researcher was that AIATSIS had some very strong protocols around who should access, and for what purposes, those cultural materials. Later in life, as an anthropologist undertaking my field work in Fitzroy Crossing, I submitted much of my work into the mapping of the Bunuba land boundaries and culture, and that sits within the AIATSIS institution. Again, there is a very strong regime of protocols around that, where permission must be sought from traditional owners in order to access that information. It's not owned by me. I might have been the person writing it at the time, but it is, in fact, owned by the traditional owners, and AIATSIS have always respected and enforced the wishes of the traditional owners in that regard. So I've always had the utmost respect for the work of AIATSIS, both as a student and later as a researcher in my own fields.

AIATSIS also, of course, has attached to it a magnificent publishing house, the Aboriginal Studies Press, and has published really outstanding works in Australia promoting First Nations cultures. There is such a rich body of material there now for Australians to learn what is, as I said, that national narrative for Australia, which is 65,000-plus years in age. The collection plays a really key role in recording languages and oral histories, and those are really precious documents that sit within that institution. There is some great work being done on the reclaiming of endangered languages, of which there are many in Australia. I'm very pleased that the Awabakal, Worimi and Dhanggati peoples in my area have all been very active in restructuring and re-creating languages. I absolutely encourage all members to take time to learn about the work of AIATSIS and promote it in your electorates.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Bird ): There being no further speakers, the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.