Protecting Aboriginal sites and artefacts in emergencies

Protecting Aboriginal sites and artefacts in emergencies

04 February 2020 MEDIA STATEMENT

Statement from the Dhawura Ngunnawal Committee

Mrs Caroline Hughes on behalf of the Dhawura Ngunnawal Committee and the Ngunnawal community, would like to extend our thanks to the ACT Environment Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, Emergency Services Agency and the Australian Defence Force for their collaboration to secure the safe retrieval of an ancient Ngunnawal women’s cultural object.

We also extend our heartfelt thanks to staff from the ACT Parks and Conservation Service - Mikaela Jade, Peter Cotsell, Brett McNamara and John McRae. The Dhawura Ngunnawal Committee are deeply thankful for the respectful consultation and care working with us in ensuring an ancient cultural object has been protected.

On Tuesday, 14 January Mikaela, Peter, Brett and John at the request of members of the Ngunnawal people went into a remote location within Namadgi National Park, successfully retrieving the ancient women’s cultural object. The object, dated between 700 to 1000 years old, was retrieved from its resting place to ensure that this object will be safe and protected for future generations. This protective measure was undertaken in the event of fire crossing the ACT border into Namadgi National Park.

Words cannot express our gratitude and appreciation to the team of people that undertook this extremely arduous and challenging task on our behalf with such respect for the cultural values of our people. We particularly acknowledge and pay our respects to Mikaela Jade, a Cabrogal woman who played a significant role in this retrieval on behalf of the Ngunnawal people, due to the qualifications that were required by authorities to undertake this task.

The committee would also like to acknowledge that this momentous event would not have occurred without the full support of the Environment Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, the Emergency Services Agency and the Australian Defence Force. We truly value your support and extend our deep thanks to all who played a part in ensuring that this object was successfully retrieved and secured in a safe location.

The committee also acknowledges that the retrieval of this object is only one part of the work being undertaken for the protection of significant cultural objects and sites within Namadgi National Park, from the potential threat of fire. We would like to thank the ACT Parks and Conservation Service, their Fire Management Unit and ACT Heritage for their collaboration and initiative during this State of Alert.

Many Aboriginal people in NSW and Victoria have experienced loss of homes and businesses. There has also been the heartbreaking loss of significant cultural objects, sites, flora and fauna in their homelands, our hearts go out to them. The work that is being done to reduce the potential impact of fire within Namadgi will hopefully save the Ngunnawal people from this heartbreak.

This retrieval is the first of its kind in the ACT in this type of circumstance. We are grateful that our voice was listened to regarding this cultural object. We now look forward to continuing to work with the ACT Government and particularly the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate in the management of Country.

Media contact:

EPSDD Media  M 0401 766 218    epsddmedia@act.gov.au