Wednesday, 8 January 2014

First Peoples exhibition at Melbourne Museum

Through the VGSO's work with the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council, VGSO solicitor Sophia Angelis was recently invited to the opening of the First Peoples exhibition at the Melbourne Museum.

The exhibition is a must-see. A shared project between Museum Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal community, it celebrates the history, culture, achievements and survival of Victoria’s Aboriginal people.

The exhibition is the first time that these stories have been comprehensively told. It does so by interweaving cutting-edge multimedia displays with Aboriginal artifacts and contemporary artworks, making it a fascinating experience for all ages.

The highlight of the exhibition is the Creation Cinema, which transports the viewer to the time of Creation through the story of Bunjil the wedge-tailed eagle.

Then in the Deep Listening Space, you can hear from Victorian Aboriginal people aged from 8 to 72 speaking about their identity, community and culture.

The exhibition also features more than 600 historic and contemporary artifacts from one of the world’s premier collections of Australian Aboriginal cultural material

A group of 16 respected Aboriginal community members and elders from across Victoria came together to form a reference group for the exhibition. The group named themselves the Yulendj Group, based on a Kulin word for 'knowledge and intelligence'. The group acted as co-curators with the museum team, which no doubt contributed to the considerable depth of the exhibition.

The exhibition will remain permanently at the Museum.

The exhibition is one of the initiatives supported by the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council, a statutory body created in 2006 to ensure that Aboriginal people in Victoria play a central role in protecting and managing their heritage.

The Council is comprised of up to 11 traditional owners appointed by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. All members live in Victoria, and have extensive knowledge and experience of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.

The Council's functions are varied. They include:
  • Deciding Registered Aboriginal Party applications. RAPs are organisations that hold decision making responsibilities for protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage in a specified geographical area.
  • Promoting public awareness and understanding about Aboriginal cultural heritage
  • Advising the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the protection and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage, including issues such as:
    • The cultural heritage significance of any Aboriginal human remains, place or object; and
    • Measures for the effective protection and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria, including the management of culturally sensitive information.
  • Advising the Secretary of the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure on:
    • Measures to establish standards and fee guidelines for sponsors to pay RAPs for their consultation when preparing cultural heritage management plans and assessments
    • The exercise of the Secretary's powers in relation to cultural heritage permits, cultural heritage management plans and cultural heritage agreements.
If you are in the Victorian Government and need advice on Aboriginal heritage issues, please contact:

Sophia Angelis
Solicitor
t 9947 1409
sophia.angelis@vgso.vic.gov.au

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