Delegates from around the continent have arrived in Adelaide this week for the AIATSIS Summit 2021 to explore issues and challenges for the native title and research sectors.
Co-convened by the South Australian Native Title Services (SANTS) and Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation (KYAC) – this year’s AIATSIS Summit combines the AIATSIS National Indigenous Research Conference and the Native Title Conference for the first time.
Running for five days across the remainder of National Reconciliation Week and Mabo Day – the event provides a unique opportunity for leading experts in their field to co-ordinate and reconnect with each other and strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge, and governance.
Keynote speakers for the event feature an impressive line-up of First Nations academics, politicians, legal experts, and community leaders.
In his keynote address on the opening day of the Summit, the Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt spoke about planning for the future and said prescribed body corporates and native title representative bodies are an integral part of developing economic opportunities from our land.
The Noongar man urged all people to think of future generations before activating land for economic opportunities.
“The decisions we’re making today will impact on their grandchildren and their children, so make them count,” Minister Wyatt said.
“Think of them when future planning, think of them when we negotiate deals, and think of them when activating land we hold.”
“I had someone say to me, but we will always have royalties from mining – but at some point that mineral, or that gas, or that energy has a finite time and will run out, the issue then becomes what do we have for the future, what do we have for our grandchildren?”
“Think of them when you’re doing all future planning and think of them when you’re negotiating deals. Economic development is a future opportunity, economic activation of our land is our challenge.”
The Chair of South Australian Native Title Services, April Lawrie echoed Minister Wyatt’s statement in her own opening address to the Summit, saying we need to think seven generations ahead when it comes to native title.
Lawrie, who is also the inaugural Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People in South Australia, said there should be an increased focus on nourishing community, culture and country, rather than statutory governance requirements.
“Land needs people, and people need the land, it is with this understanding that I want to share what I see as a worrying gap between native title and our own people,” Ms Lawrie said.
“The theme of today is community and the conference theme is Footprints for the Future, for me native title is in our Aboriginal children and young people, we need to make sure community, culture, and country are sustained, and to do that, native title and our young people must go forward, hand in hand.”
“What do we want native title to mean to our children and grandchildren in 20 years time? And because we are the landmark generation to experience native title in this lifetime, we need to seriously consider what the impacts are, for seven generations ahead.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar said the global coronavirus pandemic has exposed the world to the inadequacies of our current systems.
The Bunuba woman used her keynote address at the 2021 AIATSIS Summit to speak of truth – reckoning with our past and transforming our nation.
She said the 18 months of global upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the now worldwide Black Lives Matter movement has shown us truths “that for so long have been denied by those in power and authority—the truth of entrenched institutional discrimination, of marginalisation and the rampant growth of inequalities.”
“In Australia, mass incarceration of our peoples, deaths in custody, the destruction of Juukan Gorge, and the bush fires that have torn through sacred land, are the painful consequences of systems that have failed, and too often refused, to incorporate our rights and lives into the fabric of this nation,” Commissioner Oscar said.
“These truths laid bare, witnessed by humanity, cannot be unseen. It is in these moments of history when people everywhere begin to question our current structures and ways of operating, that we simply have no choice but to move forward in a different way.”
“The option to return to what was before is no longer acceptable.”
The 2021 AIATSIS Summit: Footprints for the future — Tracking our journey together, continues until Friday on Kaurna Yerta land at the Adelaide Convention Centre in South Australia.