Letter to Government Bodies

Decision to destroy our heritage

"Education, Culture and Land
Go Hand and in Hand...
"
(c.1981 John Harding, Tom Smith and Gary Murray VAECG)

13th May, 2011

From: Broadmeadows Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group

To: Martin Dixon MP, Minister for Education (Victorian Government)

cc. VAEAI LAECG Chairs and Koorie Pathway Schools President and Principals
cc. VAEAI Committee of Management Members, President and General Manager
cc. Premier of Victoria Hon Ted Baillieu MP
cc: David Brooks Assistant Regional Director Northern Metropolitan Region
cc. Aboriginal Community Networks


Dear Minister,

BROADMEADOWS LOCAL ABORIGINAL EDUCATION CONSULTATIVE GROUP (BLAECG) – SUPPORTING THE BALLERRT MOOROOP COLLEGE DECISION TO REJECT VDEECD DECISION TO DESTROY OUR CULTURAL HERITAGE AND BUILDING THE GSS SCHOOL ON OUR SITE

The BLAECG raises strong concern about an issue that has been developed at Ballerrt Mooroop College under the previous Brumby/Pike Labour Government. The BLAECG notes the meeting held between the BMC, Wurundjeri and BLAECG Representatives and two officers from the VDEECD Regional (David Brookes) and Central Offices (John Sullivan) on 11 May 2011 at the College. The BLAECG also notes the very poor consultative and negotiating arrangements over the last three years and particularly the last twelve months by a bureaucracy that is biased and is hell bent on destroying our cultural areas, sites, traditions, customs, observances and beliefs..

The BLAECG and the BMC exert their rights to make strong decisions about our needs and future Aboriginal education at the local level. The twenty nine LAECGs across the State are paramount to Aboriginal policy direction and strategies. LAECGs are the source of policy advice for the State and Commonwealth and have been so since the late 1970’s. VAEAI has not in any form provided any contrary advice to our position and could not without the informed consent of the LAECGs represented on the Committee of Management which supports the autonomy and position of the Ballerrt Mooroop College as evidenced at a Committee of Management meeting last year.

It is of strong concern that the department continues on with a flawed decision to build the GSS School on Ballerrt College’s land without our free, prior and informed consent. This is a particularly arrogant decision given that both State and Commonwealth heritage protection applications have not been finalised and the existence of a number of vacant school sites in our region.

It is clear to all Aboriginal Parties locally and statewide that the department is abusing Aboriginal education policy in a discriminatory manner to undermine the immediate and longterm cultural education needs and aspirations of our School and Community. The decision to destroy our cultural heritage for GSS car parks on flawed architectural and bureaucratic advice would never happen in a Catholic, Muslim or Jewish school or Greek school or any specialist interest school.

Nor is there any Government written policy that our Community is aware of to share our site with GSS, this being a relatively recent invention by misguided bureaucrats and, without an effort to obtain free, prior and informed consent from the BMC or the Aboriginal community.

Our College and supporters will not support individual and institutional racism and the undermining of our human rights being the basis for the destruction of our cultural heritage to justify the building of the GSS or for that matter any future relationship with the GSS.

Ballerrt Mooroop College, Wurundjeri Elders, VAEAI Members and the Broadmeadows LAECG strongly reject your flawed decision built on an equally flawed and biased consultation process over the last three years.

Our School strongly rejects:

  • Your proposal to destroy our cultural heritage sites including the Gathering Place, Ceremonial Ground and Spirit Tree.
  • The GSS Mater site plan because it is a plan that destroys our cultural heritage and disrespects the autonomy of our College.
  • Your lack of real consultation, negotiation and abysmal failure to obtain free prior and informed consent from our School for the GSS plan. Given the new Government’s policy on devolving more power and decision-making to School Councils and Principals your decision undermines the new Government’s education policy
  • The hastily produced Grist Due Diligence Desktop Audit Report as not diligent, flawed and so deficient that it does not justify the State’s position to deliberately destroy our cultural heritage areas.
  • Your lack of good faith and unbiased negotiations over the last eighteen months.
  • The policy of the former Government being exploited by the bureaucracy to undermine our school.
  • The flawed and unsighted verbal second hand advice from Aboriginal Affairs Victoria which undermines current heritage processes running under the VAHA and CATSIHPA.
  • The undermining of VAEAI/VDEECD Aboriginal education and the various policies as outlined on the department’s website.

We all strongly support the continuing development of our Draft BMC Master Architectural Site Plan (see attachment) which includes a more effective Koorie Pathway College concept and implementation of the Wannik strategies.

Finally, please advise what consultations are occurring between the department and VAEAI about all future arrangements and policies on Wannik and the Koorie Pathways Schools across Victoria.

Our Parties have called one of a series of Melbourne Public Meetings to consider the wider education, cultural and legal issues for 12.30pm Sunday 22 May 2011 at the Gathering Place 208 Hilton Street Glenroy to brief the Public and our local Community as to the current issues and position put to us by the department last Wednesday.

Please forward all communications by return email with courtesy copies to the Ballerrt Mooroop College School Council President and Principal.

YOURS SINCERELY,

MARGARET GARDINER - WURUNDJERI ELDER

GARY MURRAY - BROADMEADOWS LOCAL ABORIGINAL EDUCATION CONSULTATIVE GROUP
YONG BALUG CLAN, BOORT
PASTOR SIR DOUGLAS NICHOLLS JP; MBE; OAM; KCVO; BAPA MAMUS AND LADY GLADYS NICHOLLS PROJECT
YUPAGALK WERGAIA WOTJOBALUK NATIVE TITLE HOLDER
DJA DJA WURRUNG YUPAGALK WAMBA WAMBA BARAPARAPA WADI WADI NATIVE TITLE APPLICANT
WAMBA WAMBA NATIVE TITLE GROUP NEGOITIATING TEAM AND CONTACT OFFICER
DHUDHUROA NATIVE TITLE GROUP SENIOR CO-CHAIR
VICTORIAN INDIGENOUS CULTURAL AND KNOWLEDGE CENTRE WORKING GROUP
VICTORIAN TRADITIONAL OWNER LAND JUSTICE GROUP DHUDHUROA MEMBER
VICTORIAN ALPS TRADITIONAL OWNER REFERENCE GROUP CHAIR & DHUDHUROA MEMBER

Enquiries Mobile 0415 683 202
Correspondence to Email: garyjohnmurray@msn.com