History in making as Ngunnawal language motion advances reconciliation

Australian Greens

The ACT Greens will today table a motion to advance reconciliation in the ACT that will see Canberra’s local Indigenous Ngunnawal language formally introduced into the proceedings of the ACT’s Parliament.

This is the first time an Australian parliament will formally include the language of the traditional custodians in their acknowledgement to country at the start of every sitting day.

In what will also become the first tri-partisan sponsored motion tabled in the history of the ACT Legislative Assembly, the motion will call on the ACT Legislative Assembly to:

  • Use a Ngunnawal language introduction at the beginning of each sitting day;
  • Consult with member of the United Ngunnawal Elders Council and other recognised Ngunnawal Elders in order to agree on the appropriate use of words;
  • Make cultural awareness training available to all Members of the Assembly; and
  • Use these Ngunnawal words to formally recognise that the Assembly is meeting on the lands of the Ngunnawal traditional custodians each sitting day, by October 2020.

The co-sponsoring of the motion by all parties signifies that despite political differences, on the issue of recognition of our local Aboriginal people, the Ngunnawal people, there is unity.

“Across this country, we must acknowledge that First Nations People have a unique relationship with the land and water-that their rights and obligations as custodians must be respected-and that sovereignty was never ceded,” ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said today.

“The nation has a long way to go before we achieve reconciliation, and it’s incumbent on all of us to do what we can to contribute to this important reckoning.

“In tabling this motion today, we are coming together as a Parliament, united, to advance the cause of reconciliation in our Territory.”

In May 2018, the office of ACT Greens MLAs Shane Rattenbury and Caroline Le Couteur, respectively, formalised their commitment to reconciliation by launching a Reconciliation Action Plan. The commitment to deliver a motion of this kind was included in this Plan.

“2019 marks the International Year of Indigenous Languages. This is one small way in which we recognise that connections to language are central to identity and culture and to raise awareness of the consequence of the endangerment of Indigenous languages,” said Mr Rattenbury.

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.