Creating a national caring for country archive

Friday, 3 June 2016
Hmalan Hunter-Xenie
Ewan Maidment

Caring for Country (CFC) is one of the most successful arenas of Indigenous endeavour since colonisation, paralleling contemporary Indigenous achievements in art, music and sport. Based on millennia old reciprocal relationships to traditional estates, CFC brings traditional law and knowledge together with contemporary scientific information and methods to address existing and emerging challenges to the Australian environment.  CFC is catalysing new and innovative livelihood opportunities based on sustainable, culturally – robust use of land and sea resources.

The history of this remarkable social movement is about to be lost. Historical material of pioneering CFC activities exists only in community organisation offices where staff turnover, short term funding, and hostile conditions ensure its imminent destruction. Oral histories of older CFC leaders go unrecorded and essential records of community decision making often exist only in the unprotected collections of consultants and government agencies. A national archive to protects and facilitate access to this nationally significant knowledge base is urgently needed.

This session will discuss a proposal to create a national caring for country archive to protect this endangered material and make it accessible to future generations of practitioners, decision makers and scholars.  Linked to an online portal the archive could also support a ‘state of the sector’ to assess long term change and evaluate and guide policy and investment decisions.