On 30 July 2021, the Council held its regular monthly meeting and reconsidered a permit held over from the previous meeting while seeking further information. As the query had been resolved, Council determined not to oppose the application from the Clarence City Council.
Council also considered two newly submitted permit applications. The Council determined that in order to provide advice on the proposals, further information was required. In one case, members felt that additional advice on the future security of land which was to be set aside for the protection of Aboriginal heritage found within it, was required. In the second proposal, Council felt that there were alternative design options which could be considered by the proponent. Decisions on both applications was deferred until the August meeting while additional information was sought by Council.
Following these discussions, the Council were pleased to welcome Professors Kate Warner and Tim McCormack to the meeting, as part of the work they are undertaking on behalf of the Tasmanian Government on Truth Telling and Treaty.
Professors Warner and McCormack explained that their aim is to lay out a pathway to achieving something very significant and sought Council members' feedback on this effort; as well as on any efforts towards reconciliation that may have been made in the past.
In response, Council members noted their frustration in the lack of protection for Aboriginal heritage and the Council's lack of power – that the Council can provide recommendations, but these do not have to be followed.
Council members discussed their frustrations at Aboriginal heritage always being put last, their feelings of sadness at the lack of protection and why, for them, the “crumbs" of heritage (artefacts) are just as important as the big-ticket items such as kunanyi and the Arthur Pieman tracks.
Council members spoke of the large numbers of Aboriginal people who are severely impacted by loss and trauma and emphasised that if this process is about truth telling, then the Government needs to tell the truth about power, control, authority, domination, and greed.
Council noted that the development of new legislation was the light at the end of the tunnel; but emphasised that Aboriginal heritage is as vulnerable today as it was when the Council first formed.
Members felt the issues raised by Council were well received by Professors Warner and McCormack and undertook to provide them with additional information to support their concerns.
The next meeting of the Aboriginal Heritage Council is to be held on 27 August 2021 in Hobart.