History Council Advocacy statement on Aboriginal heritage
The History Council of Western Australia recognises the long heritage of Aboriginal peoples in Western Australia. We also note the fact that colonisation and dispossession have contributed to social and economic disadvantage of Aboriginal people in Western Australia. We support all opportunities for the Aboriginal peoples of Western Australia to share their stories and for visitors to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of Western Australia’s Aboriginal peoples, their heritage and culture. We support programs and research that focus on Aboriginal cultures, languages, and identity, and the unique place of Aboriginal societies within Western Australia.
The History Council recognises that:
- Aboriginal heritage is a living heritage that must be recognised and protected.
- There is a need to give certainty to Aboriginal peoples in the ownership and protection of their heritage.
- Our advocacy position on heritage generally is that any new legislation is required to take a holistic approach to heritage. This includes indigenous, built, archaeological and environmental heritage. Aboriginal heritage is both tangible and intangible – it relates to customs, objects, places, rituals, ceremonies, languages and stories.
- Connection to country is a fundamental aspect of Aboriginal heritage and culture.
- In establishing any spiritual or actual connection relating to land use and relationship to the land, due weight shall be given to oral tradition and other histories.
- Recognition must be given to customary cultural activities by Aboriginal people in order to allow them to directly participate in the management of land. Aboriginal people must be supported to manage their own heritage.