Best wishes for a very happy Christmas and New Year to all History Council members. It’s been a busy year and I’m sure we’re all looking forward to a relaxing break.
Our advocacy work has continued unabated over the last few months. With other History Councils of Australia we have lobbied the Federal Government for an Indigenous voice in the Australian Parliament, and to express concern about proposed changes to Marriage Certificates. Our continuing advocacy work at the State level is in support of the State Records, Office the Eastern Guruma people, the World Heritage nomination of Murujuga (Burrup), and against the Redaction of Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates.
Please note that the next History Council Issues Forum is to be held in May 2019. Our last Issues Forum in 2017 was a great success and resulted in changes to our Strategic Plan. As we head towards developing our next Strategic Plan 2020-24, this is your opportunity to bring the issues you care about to our attention.
Uluru Statement from the Heart
In a joint letter, the History Councils of WA, NSW, SA and Victoria have written to the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, urging the government to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the recommendations of the Referendum Council for an Indigenous voice to the Australian Parliament. A copy of the Uluru Statement is at https://www.referendumcouncil.org.au/sites/default/files/2017-05/Uluru_Statement_From_The_Heart_0.PDF
Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 amendments
The History Council of WA, along with the History Councils of Victoria, New South Wales and Victoria, has written to the Federal Attorney-General, Christian Porter, expressing concern that under the proposed amendments to the Marriage Act, information about father’s name, mother’s maiden name, usual occupation and usual place of residence, currently collected and transferred onto Official Marriage Certificates, will no longer be required. As a result, these items will no longer appear on Official Marriage Certificates. If these changes go ahead, they will greatly impede genealogical and historical research in the future.
State Records Office
We have written to Minister Templeman regarding the lack of adequate storage facilities for the state’s priceless records. Despite the standards which the State Records Office is required to comply with under its Act, it has had no available space left for storage for many years, nor the resources to adequately preserve records.
We were pleased that the West Australian published our letter to the Editor (25 October 2018) noting that railway site works commenced by Fortescue Mining Corporation prior to decisions by the Supreme Court of WA and the Commonwealth Government, threaten more than fifty age-old cultural sites in the valley adjacent to the heritage-listed Ngajanha Marnta (Spear Hill) near Tom Price. The land is owned by the Eastern Guruma people under Native Title. We have urged that an alternative route for the railway be used.
Murujuga World Heritage Nomination
We have written to the Premier Mark McGowan congratulating the State Government for proceeding with the nomination for World Heritage listing of Murujuga (the Burrup Peninsula and the whole of the Dampier Rock Art Precinct) with the support of the Aboriginal peoples connected with the place. We pointed out various difficulties the nomination may face because there is no holistic heritage legislation in place in this state. As a result, we have been invited by the Minister for the Environment to meet with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, the agency taking the lead role in preparing the nomination on behalf of the State in partnership with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation.
Redaction of Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates
Although the application form for certified copies has been changed, thanks to continued lobbying by the History Council and other interested groups and individuals, we continue to lobby the Attorney-General to make alterations to the form for greater clarity. We were pleased to see that this issue was recently reported in the West Australian (16 November 2018, p.19).