AITSIS Summit 2022

Aug 17, 2022

This year, in late May, our team attended the AIATSIS Summit on beautiful Kabi Kabi country. We thank the AIATSIS team and the Kabi Kabi people for hosting an informative and inspired conference.

The AIATSIS Summit is a unique opportunity for those working in native title to gather and learn more about recent outcomes, identify future challenges and find opportunities to collaborate.  It is also a great opportunity to find out the latest trends in native title, hear about precedent cases, and learn about strategies and opportunities from mob all over the country.

This year’s theme was ‘Navigating the spaces in between’ and it was a great opportunity for our team to yarn, connect and learn.

Some key highlights:

This year Leah proudly spoke at the Summit in her role as a member of the Australian Heritage Council.  Delivering a presentation entitled, ‘Realising free prior and informed consent in practice: Indigenous involvement in the Australian National Heritage Listing’ with her colleague Jamie Lowe.  Key takeaways from her paper include:

  1. The Australian Heritage Council’s new FPIC policy recognises Indigenous community groups’ right to give or withhold consent for the nomination and assessment of places
  2. Recognises FPIC is a process and an outcome — The council recognises that seeking FPIC requires sustained and meaningful engagement throughout the life of the nomination and assessment of a place.
  3. In engaging with Indigenous people, the Australian Heritage Council will:
    • provide written and oral information about the heritage listing process and the effect of listing and be available to engage with communities directly on these matters
    • provide clear information on decision-making processes.
  4. Will encourage Indigenous communities and groups to express their views through the mechanisms provided in the EPBC Act as well as other means, as appropriate.
  5. Recognise that while there may be many Indigenous people and groups that should be heard in the assessment process, these may differ in their level of authority to speak for Country. The council recognises that authority to speak for Country is determined by Indigenous communities themselves.
  6. Will not require the granting or withholding of consent to be unanimous, depending on the circumstances of the case given that there may be different levels of authority between those who speak for Country.
  7. Will communicate the views of Indigenous people, including whether or not there is FPIC for the inclusion of the place in the National Heritage List in providing its advice to the Minister for the Environment.
  8. In fulfilling its functions, Council is bound by its statutory requirements set out in the AHC and EPBC Acts. The Council is an advisory body to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and is not itself a decision-making body. Decision on whether to include a place in the National or Commonwealth Heritage List is ultimately a matter for the Minister for the Environment, after considering advice from the council and other matters as prescribed by the Act.

An absolute highlight of the event was the plenary session speech from the Hon Linda Burney MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians.  Minister Burney is the first First Nations woman to join the Cabinet and is one of six First Nations Caucus members.  You can read her speech here. It was a truly special opportunity to hear directly from the new Minister about her Government’s plans to deliver a referendum on an enshrined voice to Parliament and the related outcomes that will generate.

One of the most fascinating presentations was on blue carbon farming and the opportunities this presents for Indigenous groups, particularly those with sea-country as a part of their determination. We are excited to learn more about this space.

Equally we heard from Gangalidda Garawa and Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation who administer a ranger training programs to incorporate traditional fire stick farming, in conjunction with fire fighters and local council land management. Their intergenerational knowledge is transforming the way country is being managed, and they are leading conversations to help more groups do the same.