Members of aboriginal communities in Australia have held a demonstration to protest government-proposed “councils” that would supervise their heritage sites.
The protesters from rural areas assembled on Thursday in front of the Parliament House in Sydney to call on the government to abandon plans to establish the councils.
They said the planned reforms are aimed at silencing their voice and limiting their rights, demanding control over their own heritage sites.
Based on the plans, the councils would be tasked with making heritage-related decisions on behalf of their communities.
“They (government) do not… give Aboriginal people as a community a voice about what happens to our culture and our heritage,” aboriginal woman Dolly Talbott said. “They take that away and give it to a minority to decide.”
She added that the reforms open up the door “for too much corruption” as they give too much power to few people.
Talbott further said the details of the proposed reforms indicate that they would be “opening the gates to opportunity for crime and misconduct by mining companies and other commercial interests.”
It is feared that the elite few on the proposed councils would be influenced by economic interests and make decisions harmful to the wider community.
Some parliament members also voiced their opposition to the reforms. Greens MP David Shoebridge said the issues pertaining to heritage should be open for extensive community consultation and final decisions should be left to an independent aboriginal commission.
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