Aboriginal groups and investors form new alliance to protect heritage sites | Indigenous Australians

A new alliance of highly effective investors and Aboriginal heritage organisations has been shaped within the wake of Rio Tinto’s destruction of Juukan Gorge, to ensure that such a catastrophe “never happens again”.

The Dhawura Ngilan collaboration says it is going to hold a detailed eye on mining corporations to any extent further, acknowledging that defending Aboriginal cultural heritage is the accountability of all Australians, together with the finance and enterprise sectors.

“We witnessed national and global investor backlash to the Juukan Gorge disaster, demonstrating that First Nations cultural heritage is both a moral issue as well as a material financial risk,” mentioned Estelle Parker from the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) and Dhawura Ngilan associate, alongside the UN Global Compact Network Australia.

Hesta superannuation is one other main associate. The fund, which manages $52bn on behalf of greater than 870,000 Australians and is an institutional investor in Rio Tinto, has lengthy been vocal in its criticism of the best way the mining large acted at Juukan Gorge.

“What we’ve been able to do through the flashpoint that was Juukan Gorge is to say: this is a risk to the way in which you are doing business,” Hesta superannuation’s head of influence, Mary Delahunty, mentioned.

“I feel like we should have seen this without the Gorge incident, but I’m so glad that it’s now come to the attention of investors and never shall we turn away from these sort of business practices again,” she mentioned.

Delahunty was essential of Western Australia’s draft new Aboriginal cultural heritage invoice, which was meant to change the outdated laws which allowed Rio Tinto to destroy a 46,000-year-old cultural web site at Juukan Gorge, deemed to be of the very best archaeological significance in Australia.

Rio obtained ministerial consent to destroy or injury the sites from the Western Australian authorities below that state’s Aboriginal Heritage Act in 2013, however mentioned it didn’t rethink that settlement in gentle of the new info from 2014 archaeological digs.

The explosion led to a global shareholder revolt, value the roles of three senior Rio executives and sparked a federal parliamentary inquiry.

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The Western Australian authorities has spent the previous 12 months consulting on the new invoice, however conventional house owners say it doesn’t present them larger protections than earlier than.

“We’ve seen, and made ourselves aware of all of the submissions that have been put to that particular piece of legislation and had lengthy conversations with traditional owners on their concerns,” Delahunty mentioned, saying that the invoice “doesn’t represent best practice”.

“At a minimum, probably the policymakers should stop and consult further and seek to address some of those gaps or we risk really losing the chance to do this properly.”

Delahunty mentioned a part of the work forward was to assist investors perceive how to assist free prior and knowledgeable consent for conventional house owners of their dealings with mining corporations.

“I think investors are coming to this point, that when you are seeking to do business on land, with people who are the custodians of that land, they’re not just stakeholders. And that elevation of native title holders in decision making, which should be reflected in the Western Australian bill, actually means that they have more consideration than any other stakeholders in the management and protection or destruction and disturbance of culture.”

The First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance co-chairs Kado Muir and Anne Dennis mentioned the “immense burden” of pursuing social, cultural and environmental rights had fallen to land councils and native title our bodies below completely different legislative regimes, and they welcomed a new nationwide method.

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Rodney Carter, from the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council and the CEO of the Dja Dja Wurrung clans, mentioned: “Every day there are sacred places, cultural places, healing places that are being destroyed because our Aboriginal cultural heritage legislation permits managed destruction.

“We must care for our culture and our heritage, not just for the benefit of our own mob, but for all people that visit our countries,” Carter mentioned.

The federal inquiry into the Juukan gorge catastrophe was due to ship its closing report to parliament subsequent week.



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