In April 2008, the Prime Minister (Hon Kevin Rudd MP) convened the Australia 2020 Summit in Canberra. The aim of the summit was to bring together:
some of the best and brightest brains from across the country to tackle the long term challenges confronting Australia’s future – challenges which require long-term responses from the nation beyond the usual three year electoral cycle.[i]
The Summit was tasked with debating and developing “long-term options for the nation across 10 critical areas.” One of those areas was: Options for the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.[ii]
Two of the 1000 Australians chosen to attend the summit live in Pukatja:
Makinti Minutjukur works in Pukatja for the State Department for Families and Communities. She previously worked as Pukatja’s Municipal Services Officer (the only Anangu woman to have held such a position). She is a member of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council Executive and was previously a member of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Executive Board.[iii]
Alison Milyika Carroll is the Director of Ananguku Arts and Culture. An artist of more than twenty years’ standing, her work is held in the National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia, the British Museum and the Edinburgh City Gallery, as well as in every state gallery collection in Australia and many private collections. She is a past Chairperson of Ernabella Arts Inc.[iv]
Before travelling to Canberra, Makinti Minutjukur and Alison Milyika Carroll produced a summary of the matters they hoped to highlight at the Summit. [v] In response to the government’s questions:
Where will Indigenous culture be placed in 2020? What is the Indigenous role in what Australia as a whole wants in terms of identity and culture?
Ms Minutjukur and Ms Carroll stated:
If things keep going as they are there will be very little Indigenous culture left. By 2020 all the old people might be gone. We have to keep our culture and language strong so that there is a future for our young people. We want our young people living to be 90 in their own country – not lost in the cities. To keep our culture strong for another 100 years we have to make changes – Support programs for good food, clean water, not crowded houses, for our grandchildren. We need to learn about how non-indigenous people live, but keep our own culture strong. We need to talk to government about how to make new jobs.[vi]
Among the issues that Ms Minutjukur and Ms Carroll hoped to highlight at the summit were the need for:
- due recognition of Aboriginal expertise (“Recognise that Aboriginal skills and qualifications are not always on a piece of paper.”)
- gender balance in Indigenous leadership (“half should be women”)
- funding for Back to Country programs (“People do not have enough money for fuel to take young people back to country and teach them”), and
- long term planning (“3, 6, 9 years – there is no such thing as an ‘Annual Budget'”).[vii]
In a pre-Summit document, Ms Minutjukur’s priorities were summarised as follows:
“The Rudd Government needs good advice, and will get good advice by:
listening to Aboriginal people,
understanding that there are a lot of Aboriginal leaders (one person in Queensland cannot speak for people on the APY Lands), and
using Aboriginal organisations to give advice.”[viii]
She also emphasised:
“That it is important to support Aboriginal people with enough resources to employ good people to give advice.
“Money should go direct to Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.
“Give Aboriginal people enough time and space to set their own agendas to fix the problems – put faith in Anangu to know what the problems are and give them enough resources to solve the problems.”[ix]
In the same document, Ms Carroll indicated that she was “going to Canberra to argue for the following points:
“Government needs to listen to Aboriginal people, and use the Aboriginal key arts organisations to provide information and advice.
“Art centres are very important in remote areas. Art centres provide social and health benefits and income for people. Art Centres are a good model for delivering programs.
“Art centres need more government funding support to grow their business, for:
staff housing so we can employ more staff
set of rules or code of conduct that can be enforced, to stop the unregulated black market which does damage to the artist’s reputation, artist’s income and to families and communities.
“CDEP is important in art centres to give artists a living wage and still allow them to practise their art.”[x]
This article has been archived and will no longer be updated. It will, however, remain accessible online as a source of background information for anyone wishing to undertake further research on this issue. Information included in the article was current at the time it was archived. Keep in mind, however, that Ministerial changes and names of departments, among other things, may have since changed.
[iii] See: Carroll, A. and Minutjuku, M. April 2007, “Minyma Kutjara (Two Women) go to Canberra.” Document provided to the Paper Tracker by Ananguku Arts & Culture Aboriginal Corporation.
[iv] See: Carroll, A. and Minutjuku, M. April 2007, “Minyma Kutjara (Two Women) go to Canberra.”
[v] Carroll, A. and Minutjuku, M. April 2007, “Minyma Kutjara (Two Women) go to Canberra.”
[vi] See: Carroll, A. and Minutjuku, M. April 2007, “Minyma Kutjara (Two Women) go to Canberra.”
[vii] See: Carroll, A. and Minutjuku, M. April 2007, “Minyma Kutjara (Two Women) go to Canberra.”
[viii] See: Carroll, A. and Minutjuku, M. April 2007, “Minyma Kutjara (Two Women) go to Canberra.”
[ix] See: Carroll, A. and Minutjuku, M. April 2007, “Minyma Kutjara (Two Women) go to Canberra.”
[x] See: Carroll, A. and Minutjuku, M. April 2007, “Minyma Kutjara (Two Women) go to Canberra.”