Monday, 18 October 2021
Indigenous Heritage Protection
Last week I had the privilege of attending the Yamatji On Country forum in Carnarvon. Over the two days, people gathered from the Mid West, Murchison and Gascoyne to talk about their important issues and solutions. There was a strong focus on the WA government's draft This bill will enable the destruction of and harm to First Nations cultural heritage. It undermines our right to self-determination and dismisses our cultural heritage. Traditional owners are asking the WA government to stop all proceedings on this bill. It cannot go ahead in its current form.
The government needs to go back to the drawing board and engage in public consultations with traditional owners. This would allow traditional owners to co-design more-culturally-inclusive conditions in the bill. Any changes to cultural heritage legislation must put First Nations people at the centre of decision-making about our land, culture, language and heritage. This bill provides us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to implement best practice cultural heritage protections in WA, standards that ensure that the destruction that occurred at Juukan Gorge can never happen again. I'm urging the WA government to listen to the traditional owners and to act to protect and preserve First Nations culture and heritage and our climate.