- What is First Nations Cultural Heritage and why is it so important?
- What needs to be done?
- Spread the word, share our explainer
- Cultural Heritage in the States & Territories
- Take Action
Wuthathi-Meriam woman and prominent legal authority Terri Janke describes Cultural Heritage as:
“Cultural practices, resources and knowledge systems developed, nurtured and refined by Indigenous people and passed on by them as part of expressing their cultural identity.”
Australia’s ancient and continuing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage is fundamental to First Nations peoples. To destroy a cultural heritage site is to sever First Nations peoples’ inherent connections to their ancestors, to country, and to culture.
First Nations cultural heritage is living, so the definition is always evolving.
As the lawful destruction of sacred sites such as Juukan Gorge illustrates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples face the prospect of their cultural heritage being destroyed instantaneously. This lack of protection stems from “tokenistic” legislation that systematically neglects First Nations knowledge, lacks integrated consultation, and seemingly protects the interests of the extractive industries. Therefore, it is clear that there needs to be a fundamental reshaping of cultural heritage protection legislation in this country.
“Cultural heritage protection policies for our First Nations people are not strong enough. Recently [October 2020] in western Victoria Djab Wurrung trees were cleared to expand a highway. Last year the destruction of the Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara by Rio Tinto shocked the world. In Australia, our land and our sacred sites are at risk. Despite governments proposing stronger Aboriginal heritage laws, it is inevitable that communities will continue to suffer immense hurt as a result of the relentless exploitation of our lands.” — Ngarra Murray, Executive Lead, First Peoples Program Oxfam Australia and Executive Member, First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.
How would you feel if you came home one day to find the things that were invaluable to you all gone? Every day, First Nations Cultural Heritage is being destroyed. Share our explainer and help spread the word, we must stop this destruction before its too late.
“There is still a lot of mistrust and trauma after the Juukan caves were destroyed by a system that handed out permits to mining companies to destroy our cultural heritage.” — Yamatji Noongar woman and WA Greens Senator Dorinda Cox
We need you to get involved to help protect Australia’s precious, priceless First Nations Cultural Heritage. Read up and learn more about cultural heritage, spread the word to your friends and networks, and share our animation. Sign our pledge to demand governments take action to strengthen legislation to protect cultural heritage and email your local MP to support this process.
Find out what’s happening with cultural heritage in your backyard, what’s being done – or not – by governments to help protect CH, and ways you can get involved and take action.
To read more, visit our Cultural Heritage Protection Campaign page.
ANTaR is a proud partner of the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance.