Out of the vault – a thousand names and thumb prints

Media release: Monday, 19 November 2012

The fragile Larrakia petition, signed with a thousand names and thumbprints, will come out of the vault on Tuesday for a special viewing by the National Archives' Aboriginal Advisory Group – visiting for the first time from the Northern Territory.

The 3.3 metre petition, calling on Queen Elizabeth to help Aboriginal people achieve land rights, gained notoriety in 1972. The Larrakia people had camped outside Government House in Darwin on 15 October 1972, trying to present the petition to Princess Margaret to pass on to the Queen. As they tried to break through a police barricade, the petition became torn. Two days later it was sent to Buckingham Palace, with an apology for its poor condition.

The National Archives' Northern Territory Aboriginal Advisory Group will visit Canberra for the first time to mark the fifteenth anniversary of a memorandum of understanding between the National Archives and representatives of the Northern Territory Aboriginal community affected by past government's separation policies.

The visit will also celebrate a new Indigenous Unit which has been established at the National Archives in Canberra. The new unit will enable the National Archives to build on the work that has been done with the Indigenous community around Australia, particularly in the Northern Territory, Victoria and South Australia.

(See Background notes for further information.)

The petition will be shown to the Aboriginal Advisory Group:

Tuesday, 20 November, 11.30 am
National Archives of Australia (Bruce Room)
Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600

Director-General David Fricker will be available to talk to media.

RSVP: Elizabeth Masters - see contact details below.

Contact information

  • Elizabeth Masters (Media Officer)
    t (02) 6212 3957 m 0427 853 664 e elizabeth.masters@naa.gov.au
  • Shaun Rohrlach (Director, Communications and Programs)
    t (02) 6212 3990 m 0434 664 621 e shaun.rohrlach@naa.gov.au

Background

New Indigenous Unit in National Archives, Canberra

The new unit has been established to enable the National Archives to build on the work that has been done with the Indigenous community around Australia, particularly in the Northern Territory, Victoria and South Australia. (Most of the pre-1967 Commonwealth records held by the National Archives relate to the Northern Territory, Victoria and South Australia.) The unit will enable the National Archives to:

  • build on work that has already been done with the Indigenous community, working more closely with the community on targeting services to enable Indigenous Australians to access relevant material in the National Archives' collection more effectively
  • provide a more concentrated focus on particular projects and issues, such as:
    • the Australian Research Council linkage grant Serving our country: a history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in defence. The grant is headed by the Australian National University with the support of the Departments of Defence and Veterans' Affairs, the National Archives, the Australian War Memorial and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. The National Archives holds the personal files of those who served in the Defence Forces, and will be contributing seminars, an exhibition and support for researchers on the project
    • the National Archives Bringing Them Home name index
  • enhance the Indigenous component of the National Archives' website

The unit has been established using some of the new funding allocated to the National Archives as part of the $64.1 million allocated to the arts, cultural heritage and creative industries over a four-year period, as announced by the Arts Minister, Simon Crean on 8 May 2012.

National Archives' Aboriginal Advisory Group

The Aboriginal Advisory Group was set up under the Northern Territory's Memorandum of Understanding between the National Archives and representatives of the Northern Territory Aboriginal community affected by past governments separation policies.

The memorandum provides special arrangements for access to records for free photocopies for Aboriginal people. The Northern Territory memorandum was signed in. The role of the group is to provide advice and assistance to the National Archives in managing and reviewing the operation of the memorandum. (Similar memoranda have been signed with Aboriginal communities in Victoria and South Australia.)

The Group has assisted the National Archives in a number of ways:

  • advising on the operation of the Memorandum of Understanding and National Archives' services to Aboriginal people
  • distributing information about the National Archives' services for Aboriginal people to their clients and communities
  • helping develop publications such as Tracking Family: a Guide to Aboriginal Records Relating to the Northern Territory
  • speaking at events, conferences and seminars

Current membership of the Aboriginal Advisory Group

The Aboriginal Advisory Group currently includes the following four members:

  • Kathy Mills, Top End community representative, Darwin. She was the first woman to become a member of the Northern Land Council and has been on many boards and councils. She was a co-commissioner of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission inquiry that resulted in the Bringing Them Home report.
  • Vicki-Lee Knowles, NT Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation representative (Darwin): She is the Chief Executive Officer of the organisation which is responsible for Link-Up in the Top End.
  • Margaret Furber, Central Australian community representative, Alice Springs. She was a senior health worker for the South Australian government before returning to Alice Springs where she has worked with the Congress and the Northern Territory government. She has also worked on a number of boards.
  • Rick Jones, Central Australian Stolen Generations and Families Aboriginal Corporation representative (Alice Springs): he is a Link-Up caseworker who assists Aboriginal people who have been separated from their families by former government policies to link up with their families and communities.
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