Centenary focus on first Australians

THERE was passion and justification in abundance as the Centenary of Canberra launched its indigenous cultural program, “Celebrating First Australians”.

Robyn Archer, creative director of the Centenary, argued her case for the strong focus placed on first Australians during the 2013 program.

Yankee Hat rock art photo from ACT Tourism, with the endorsement of the Namadgi rock art working group.

Yankee Hat rock art photo from ACT Tourism, with the endorsement of the Namadgi rock art working group.

For one thing, she said, when Australia was federated in 1901 there was little if any reference to our indigenous population. Also, this year presented a great chance to show how things are changing and how important Canberra has been to that, with events such as the establishment of the Tent Embassy, the voiding of Terra Nullius by the High Court and Kevin Rudd’s apology all taking place here.

Archer introduced the handsome program, featuring rock art from Namadgi National Park, praising the producer of indigenous programming, Helen Healy, of HHO events from Mildura, who later told “CityNews” that, contrary to some claims that much of the Centenary program was “going to happen anyway”, every bit of her community-friendly program had been specifically commissioned for and funded by the Centenary.

Centenary patron Sir William Deane reminded the crowd that 2013 would be an occasion for sadness as well as celebration and added to Archer’s list of landmark events the 1967 Aboriginal Referendum and the establishment of Reconciliation Australia. No more, he said, were indigenous Australians “essentially invisible.”

ACT Minister for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs Shane Rattenbury announced a nationwide program encompassing 64 events and involving almost 400 people from over 50 places around Australia.

Program details at canberra100.com.au/programs/indigenous-focus/.

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