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Recognition of Indigenous context: African Australians - Compendium (2010)

2010 - African Australians: human rights and social inclusion issues project

A compendium detailing the outcomes of the community and stakeholder consultations and interviews and public submissions

1 Recognition of Indigenous context

"When I first arrived on this soil, I asked around about who the custodians of the land were here.... it's very important for us to know about the land
and its history. This was common practice for us back home. Unfortunately though no-one could actually tell us. For me it really showed that as
newcomers we have an obligation to remember the history of this land and its original people, and that we always pay respects to that..."
(Community Leader, Victoria).

Australia is home to the oldest continuing cultures in human history, which date back an estimated 50,000 years. Cultural and linguistic diversity has
been a part of the Australian landscape since pre-colonisation times, when more than 250 Aboriginal languages with over 600 dialects were spoken [1].

Almost all of the consultations undertaken raised the importance of recognising that multiculturalism operates within the context of Indigenous history
and Indigenous sovereignty.

Whilst there are examples of tensions across various states and territories between Indigenous communities, particularly young people, and newly
arrived African communities, even more examples were given of activities currently being undertaken in partnership between Indigenous and African

In undertaking this project an ideal opportunity was presented for an open dialogue to occur between Aboriginal and African communities to identify
common community issues, particularly around youth, and to explore constructive ways forward.

A community consultation involving Indigenous and African communities in Melbourne was co-hosted by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the City
of Yarra in recognition of their large population of Aboriginal and African communities.

The meeting was chaired by former Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tom Calma, and included over 20 participants representing both Aboriginal and
African communities and community organisations.

This consultation was believed to be the first formal meeting of this kind run in Australia, bringing together Australia's oldest and youngest
communities. As one African leader described: "this gathering reflects the true spirit of reconciliation and inclusion".