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Statement from Vicki Nicholson-Brown April 28, 2006

Posted by campsovereignty in Press Statements.
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You will remember the Camp Sovereignty statement on Monday regarding the Government decision to suspend the 48 Aboriginal Cultural Heritatge Inspectors in Victoria. One of those Inspectors Vicki Nicholson-Brown (who is innapropriately being blamed for this decision), released her own statement today. Camp Sovereignty thanks Vicki for her strength and determination to stand up for what is right. In particular, Vicki's determination to uphold the right of all Aboriginal People to make their own determinations on what is Aboriginal culture and heritage.

Here is Vicki's statement:

Statement from Vicki Nicholson-Brown – Cultural Heritage Inspector

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Inspector Vicki Nicholson-Brown today expressed concern about the Victorian State Governments' moves to temporarily suspend all Cultural Heritage Inspectors, and criticised the way in which the Government was handling this matter in the public eye.

"The Government has, while the suspension remains, in effect removed the right for Aboriginal People to make decisions about what can be defined as our own culture. The Government has suspended an entire group of hard-working volunteer community workers because they were unable to understand one decision that was made" said Mrs Nicholson-Brown today.

"The Government is saying one thing to the media and another thing to the Cultural Heritage Inspectors. While the statement to the press said that we were all being suspended until the Government could appoint new inspectors, what the correspondence we have received says is that we have been suspended until we can prove why we shouldn't be.

"The Minister has offered a natural justice process in order to resolve this issue, which I am looking forward to constructively engaging in. However, I am concerned due to the statements made to the media that the Minister may have already made a decision and no amount of reason will change his mind.

"The Minister is concerned that the public needs to be confident in this process and I share this concern. However, this confidence will not be gained by appointing state managed bureaucrats who have to report to the Minister. The point of having Inspectors as is under the current regime is to ensure an independent voice on these matters, which is accountable to grass-roots Aboriginal communities.

"My other concern is that the Minister has used this event as an excuse to question my integrity and credibility as one of the longest serving Inspectors in Victoria. I have worked long and hard to serve my people and I have been involved in countless situations which have resulted in positive outcomes for all parties involved. Now the Minister has used one Emergency Declaration, which he obviously doesn't understand thoroughly, to question my ability to do my job.

"I will be writing to the Minister to request he demonstrate his reasons for this action, as we have not seen any reasoning except to say that the Minister is responding to public disquiet.

"These moves from the State Government have obviously affected our community, some calling this a 200-year backwards step in regards to the paternal attitude that is now coming from the Government. However, this is not a final outcome and I encourage all Inspectors affected by this decision to join together to stand up for the rights of our people. We have been chosen by our Elders to take on these distinguished roles and we undertake our responsibilities with a sense of pride. We should not let our people continue to be divided on matters of culture and heritage and I call on all Inspectors to work together to find a positive outcome for all of our communities."

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Comments»

1. crownlion - April 29, 2006

You deserve a great deal of support and praise from both indigenous and the non indigenous community Vicki.

When you signed off on that emergency declaration, from my limited understanding and in my view:

1. you protected a burial site of 38 Elders of different southern Nations which did not have protection under the current legislation as the re-burial occurred prior to the current legisation being enacted;

2. you protected an ongoing sacred and historically important ceremony upon country which is well recorded as a shared camping and ceremonial ground in the area known as the Yarra Mission;

3. you assisted in ensuring some time and attention was enabled for the indigenous community to discuss the future for the site; and

4. you ensured there was no violent attack by Melbourne City Council and Victoria Police on 10 April 2006 to ‘stamp’ the fire out.

You have provided a very positive service to the community as a whole.

The response from the Government to suspend the 48 inspectors, in my view is evidence of the disired continued oppression of the indigenous people at both the State and Federal.

Whilst we support East Timor and turn our attention to West Papua, Aboriginal Sovereignty must not be ignored and deserves a very large amount of attention and discussion throughout this country as it is an issue of extreme importance to all our future.

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