A Foundation for all Australians

Thursday, 14 May 2015
Photo caption: (L-R) Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, AIATSIS Chairperson, Professor Mick Dodson AM, the Governor-General, His Excellency, General the Hon Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), Lady Cosgrove, AIATSIS Deputy Principal, Michelle Patterson, AIATSIS Foundation President, Rachel Perkins and AIATSIS Principal, Russell Taylor. Photo courtesy: Government House, Canberra

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Foundation was launched by the Governor-General, His Excellency, General the Hon Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) and Lady Cosgrove Thursday, 14 May 2015.

“AIATSIS has dedicated itself to preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of Indigenous Australians, and the collection it holds is by any measure, a national treasure,” said the Governor-General, His Excellency, Sir Peter Cosgrove.

“It’s linked to our past, and a connection and a pathway and a signpost to our future. It is a collection who tells us who all of us are, and it is a collection we need to fully appreciate and understand as the nation grows into its own future.”

At the launch, the Education Minister, the Hon Christopher Pyne announced the inaugural AIATSIS Foundation President, award winning film-maker, Rachel Perkins.

In her first speech as Foundation President Ms Perkins spoke about why she believed in the AIATSIS Foundation and why she has dedicated herself to support it.

“I have just finished a personal project, recording all that was left of Arrernte women’s dreaming stories in song in our country in Alice Springs. There are about 5000 Arrernte people and we realised there are only about 10 ladies who hold, in living memory, the dreaming stories in song. In our cultures, we use song to transmit this knowledge,” said Ms Perkins.

”Although we recorded many of our songs, we also realised how many songs we had lost. This story is not unique, it is a story that resonates in Indigenous communities across much of Australia.

“This story is at the heart of my commitment to the Foundation, why it is so important to me. We will develop a comprehensive and urgent plan to identify, gather, safe-keep and share the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage of this nation.

“We will raise funds to illuminate and repatriate the AIATSIS Collections, the world’s largest and most significant collection of Indigenous Australian culture and history.

“It will be a Foundation for all Australians and we need the help of corporations, universities, philanthropists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and as many supporters as possible.

“We need to take this very seriously, its time to be galvanized together in unity to act on a national scale,” said Ms Perkins.

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Last reviewed: 12 Jul 2017