AIATSIS - Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

04/04/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/03/2019 23:50

AIATSIS statement on the Report on the inquiry into Canberra's national institutions

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) welcomes the release of Telling Australia's story - and why it's important: Report on the inquiry into Canberra's national institutions on Wednesday, 3 April, 2019.

Recommendation 13 of the 20 recommendations by the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories suggests the Australian Government relocate AIATSIS to the Parliamentary Triangle, expand the Institute's remit and facilities to constitute a comprehensive national institution focused on the history, culture and heritage of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and include in the new facility a national resting place for repatriated ancestral remains that cannot immediately return to Country.

AIATSIS CEO Craig Ritchie said an Indigenous national institution within the Parliamentary Zone is critically important to the nation.

'It is essential that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people curate our own stories to the nation and the world. This is part of AIATSIS' role and a function that cannot be replicated by other institutions,' Mr Ritchie said.

'The idea of a comprehensive national institution focused on the history, culture and heritage of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, is an idea whose time has come. AIATSIS is incredibly excited by the opportunity presented by the recommendation of the Committee.

'Calls for the creation of a national resting place for repatriated ancestral remains that cannot be immediately returned to country are longstanding. We believe the creation of such a place will be a critical component of an iconic and enduring institutional representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' unique place as central to the national story.

'A national resting place will provide a place for people to gather for reflection, education and learning. It will be a place for the individual and for all, and create a focal point to assist in the nation's healing process.

'Developing a model for a national resting place would be a very important and intensive body of work. It would require extensive consultation across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia to ensure the remains of our Elders are cared for appropriately and respectfully, and that the place is representative of the cultural diversity of First Australians.'

Telling Australia's story - and why it's important: Report on the inquiry into Canberra's national institutions can be read in full on the Parliament of Australia website.

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