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Brisbane Council meets Aboriginal Elders

22nd May 2012

Sam Watson spoke after Indigenous elders meeting with the Mayor of Brisbane on Tuesday 22nd May 2012. Here is a basic transcript of what he said.

Sam Watson Video Transcript

"There was a meeting this morning with senior elders, custodians of country and senior representatives of the local community with the Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and his team.

Our issues were put on the table and discussed.

There was a joint agreement that the council and the Aboriginal community should work together.

The Aboriginal community should have self-management rights .

The hall at the top end of the park will be developed as a cultural precinct.

The council has also committed themselves to help fund the construction of the Aboriginal Cultural Centre. With funding from the state government, the council and the
Indigenous Land Corporation, this makes the concept of our cultural centre very much achievable.

The council accepted that the location in the park of a Sovereign Embassy is not negotiable.

The council has accepted that the Aboriginal Tent Embassy will need to be a permanent fixture in the Musgrave Park area."

Tent embassy to stay

AAP Brisbane Times May 23, 2012

The controversial Aboriginal tent embassy will remain at Musgrave Park as talks between the indigenous community and Brisbane City Council begin to recognise a traditional bora ring at the site, lord mayor Graham Quirk said last night.

However, the tents must remain where they currently stand – in the southern corner of Musgrave Park – and only one ceremonial fire can be lit at one time.

In addition, the indigenous community is likely to be able to self-govern the community hall on the southern corner of Musgrave Park, the council-run Jagera Community Hall.

Cr Quirk said a June 29 meeting would allow a working group set up yesterday to take the next steps.

"The importance of Musgrave Park and its spiritual significance to the indigenous community was discussed, particularly in respect of the identification of a bora ring on Musgrave Park," he said.

"And without making decisions, we canvassed some options around the recognition of that site."

A working party was set up to explore how the Jagera Arts Hall could be passed to the indigenous community.

"We have discussed the issue of self-governance," Cr Quirk said.

"There will be a working party established with council officers involved in how that might occur."

Other community organisations were now booking the hall and would have to be consulted over the decision, Cr Quirk said.

"They will co-exist in the short-term and transition towards a self-governance platform for the indigenous community in the longer-term," he said.

The June 29 will also mark the start of new talks about an indigenous cultural centre.

Cr Quirk said he had asked the indigenous community to have just one fire at the site.

"I did indicate that we could not continue with two fires," he said.

"We have been receiving complaints from people and we need to have a controlled, single ceremonial fire and the second one had to go."

Cr Quirk said the secondary fire was only used for cooking purposes.

Indigenous elder Sam Watson, who was at yesterday's meeting, said positive steps had been taken.

Mr Watson said the indigenous community was excited at the prospect of formal ownership over the second site.

"For the first time our connection, our right to have a say in the way in which this park is used, has finally been acknowledged by the authorities," he said.

Mr Watson said the council had agreed to construct a plaque at the original tent embassy site where an ancient bora ring (a ritual area) was once located.

A barrier around the site would also be erected, he said.

Aboriginal leaders strike tent embassy deal

ABC Indigenous May 22, 2012

A deal has been struck between Aboriginal leaders and the Brisbane City Council over the future of a tent embassy.

The embassy at Musgrave Park in South Brisbane was shut down by police last week and 30 people were arrested.

It has since been relocated to an area at the top end of the park.

Leaders met Lord Mayor Graham Quirk on Tuesday morning to discuss a way forward.

They say the mayor is allowing the embassy to stay in its new location with conditions including there be only one fire and a maximum of three tents.

Community worker Sam Watson says the meeting was positive.

"We came away very pleased because we really do believe we are going to have a constructive and strong pathway forward," he said.

Mr Watson says the council also wants traditional owners to have more say in the management of Musgrave Park.

Brisbane Tent Embassy given permanent site

AAP SBS News 22nd May 2012

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has agreed to give Aboriginal protesters a permanent, scaled-down tent embassy site.

A scaled-down Aboriginal tent embassy will remain permanently in a Brisbane park, but protesters will not be allowed to return to the original site.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk agreed to hand over an area of South Brisbane's Musgrave Park to indigenous protesters during a meeting on Tuesday.

Tent embassy protesters have been camped at the alternative location at one end of the park since Wednesday of last week.

Then, 31 people were arrested for resisting eviction at the original embassy site in Musgrave Park.

A spokesman for Mr Quirk said the offer of the alternative site was put on the table before the controversial eviction.

"Our offer stands with that (alternative) site," the spokesman told AAP, adding the protesters would be able to maintain a marquee, "a couple of tents" and an open fire.

"We don't want another large tent embassy like they had and they're not allowed to go back to that (original) site."

Local Aboriginal activist Sam Watson was at Tuesday's meeting and said tensions from last week's eviction remained.

He said the indigenous community was nevertheless excited at the prospect of formal ownership over the second site.

"For the first time our connection, our right to have a say in the way in which this park is used, has finally been acknowledged by the authorities," he told AAP on Tuesday.

Mr Watson said the council had agreed to construct a plaque at the original tent embassy site where an ancient bora ring (a ritual area) was once located.

A barrier around the site would also be erected, he said.

Another meeting will be held between council and indigenous elders on June 29 to discuss the future of an indigenous cultural centre in Musgrave Park.