The First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance applauds the new Federal Government’s new National Cultural Policy – Revive: that places First Nations communities at the heart of the nation’s cultural road map.

Importantly, it is recognised the new cultural policy outlines a government commitment to introduce legislation to protect intangible First Nations knowledge and cultural expressions, including the harm caused by fake art.

The First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance (FNHPA) draws attention to the $11 million allocated towards establishing a First Nations Languages Policy Partnership between First Nations representatives and Australian governments.

One of the world’s fastest rates of language loss is in Australia, given until the 1970s previous government policies banned and discouraged Aboriginal people from speaking their languages. Indigenous languages in Australia comprise only 2% of languages spoken in the world but represent 9% of the world’s critically endangered languages.

Last year the United Nations launched the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (following on from 2019’s International Year of Indigenous Languages) drawing global attention to the critical endangerment of indigenous languages, to engage stakeholders and resources in preservation, revitalisation and promotion.

As an expert in language preservation Kado Muir Co-Chair of FNHPA states “Languages carry cultural knowledge. So the loss of a language means the loss of culture, of Aboriginal people’s connection to their ancestors, which in turn has the potential to impact on Aboriginal people’s health and wellbeing.”

While Mr Muir supports the new Revive: Cultural Policy, he feels there is still not enough done to acknowledge and support the works of senior law men and women who are the custodians of the oldest intangible forms of cultural expressions on earth.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples retain one of the oldest living traditions of intangible cultural heritage in the form of songs, dances, ceremonies and rituals, which have been continually practised for thousands of years,” Mr Muir says. “These traditions are of immense World Heritage significance and should be globally acknowledged and inscribed with World Heritage status.”

“As a desert man practising our law and culture in the deserts of Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia,” he continues, “I would love to see my Elders given recognition and support for the immense spiritual and cultural knowledge they hold and pass on to younger generations like me and my contemporaries.

I look forward to seeing how the new Revive: Cultural Policy will support the inscription and recognition of our traditions with an intangible World Heritage status.”

FNHPA further acknowledges the creation of the specific First Nations Body within Revive’s cultural policy centrepiece ‘Creative Australia’ (formerly Australia Council) has been launched within its structure. An important step towards self-determination, this new First Nations led body will give First Nations people autonomy over decisions and investments.

The First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance looks forward to working with the government on defining and setting details, to drive a shared vision in further showcasing, reviving and protecting intangible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage on both a national and global stage.


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