The Bangerang tribe will be given recognition, with funding to reapply as a Registered Aboriginal Party.JOHN LEWIS January 24, 2014 4:30am
State Member for Northern Victoria Amanda Millar, Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council member Uncle Wally, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jeanette Powell, State Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy, Bangerang elder Uncle Sandy, Bangerang elder Uncle Freddie and State Member for Benalla Bill Sykes.
Six years after being rejected as a Registered Aboriginal Party, Bangerang elders yesterday welcomed news they would receive funding to reapply.
Tatura-based Bangerang elder John ‘‘Sandy’’ Atkinson said it was an exciting and important day for Bangerang people.
‘‘I’m very relieved that at last we’ve been given recognition. It’s been a long journey,’’ Mr Atkinson said.
Bangerang representatives have been lobbying for registration ever since the Aboriginal Heritage Act was established in 2006. Under the act, traditional owner groups can be appointed as a Registered Aboriginal Party with cultural heritage, management and protection responsibilities over certain areas of the state.
In 2007, the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council rejected an application by the Bangerang Cultural Centre Co-operative to be appointed as a RAP for north-central Victoria.
However, in Benalla yesterday Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jeanette Powell granted the Bangerang Cultural Centre $5000 to prepare another application to become a RAP for northern Victoria.
Mrs Powell said the money would help Bangerang people work with experts to gather evidence of significant cultural areas across northern Victoria.
‘‘This is the beginning of that process,’’ Mrs Powell said.
‘‘In 2007 when the (Bangerang) application was declined, there was a lot of disappointment and a lot of pressure to establish an all-party inquiry.’’
A parliamentary inquiry into the registration system was established in 2011 and tabled its report in November last year.
Mrs Powell said changes had been made to the Aboriginal Heritage Council.
‘‘The council now reflects a broader representation of Aboriginal people,’’ Mrs Powell said.
She said she hoped yesterday’s announcement would be the start of a ‘‘healing’’ process between Aboriginal groups.
‘‘I hope this opens the doors for discussion between Yorta Yorta and Bangerang people,’’ Mrs Powell said.
Mr Atkinson hailed yesterday’s announcement as a new beginning for Bangerang people.
He said the support shown by the hundreds of people who turned up in Benalla’s Indigenous Gardens yesterday was staggering.
‘‘I hope the minister gains some strength from this,’’ Mr Atkinson said.
‘‘The government now has to change the legislation to finally recognise us.’’
A spokesperson for the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation said board members would review Mrs Powell’s announcement and comment after that.
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