Liza Duncan and Leannae Kelly from Ashford Local Aboriginal Land Council talk about establishing a "keeping place" of Aboriginal artefacts in their community and how the Australian Museum assisted.
Liza Duncan: Hi, my name is Liza Duncan and I’m from Ashford Aboriginal - Local Aboriginal Land Council. Ashford is situated 60ks north of Inverell and it’s [Kyambul] Country.
Leanne Kelly: My name is Leanne Kelly. I’m the CEO of the Ashford Local Aboriginal Land Council. Around about 18 months ago Local Aboriginal Land Councils had to develop a Community Land and Business Plan. So during this time the members of the Aboriginal Land Council came up with an idea of setting up a Culture Centre and Keeping Place in the Ashford Land Council Building.
So what’s happened from that, we’ve opened a Culture Centre, That was opened approximately eight months ago, and we are now visiting the Australian Museum to source artefacts, to have an exhibition.
Liza Duncan: By getting the exhibitions up from the Australian Museum that would bring more people into the Centre, and make them aware - more aware of the culture.
Leanne Kelly: One of the first problems, as I said, from our Community Land and Business Plan, we identified a number of places where we could obtain funding. We submitted a number of applications over around about a six month period, but were unsuccessful in gaining funding. The Land Council receives an annual budget of around $130,000 a year, so we had to skimp and save out of our budget, out of our administration budget, to open the Centre.
Liza Duncan: Well it’s just to restore our history, to keep a track of the history of the area. Make people more aware that there was a history there before European settlement.
Leanne Kelly: We also have looked at, once we do receive some funding, is expanding on the Centre, to have a permanent resource room, a teaching room - looking at doing some cultural awareness…
Liza Duncan: Training.
Leanne Kelly: …training - that type of thing - but that’s in the future. So we’re looking at, probably more employment for Aboriginal people in the Ashford area. So prior to opening our Centre we only had a small number of objects - mainly stone tools, like a few axe heads, grinding stones - that type of thing. So the board decided they’d like to place an ad in the local newspaper, just asking if anyone in the community - indigenous or non indigenous - had any artefacts that they would like to loan or donate to the Centre, so the response from that was really great.
A number of people came forward with a number of different artefacts and said, look we’ve had these laying around for years, or grandad had this sitting in the shed, or something like that. They actually brought them in and we’ve now got some of that stuff on display.
Not all of them said, look - some of them are loans and some people have actually said, look we’d like to donate this to the Centre.
Liza Duncan: A lot of the stuff is local artefacts that were found locally. We had people, like artists - local artists - setting up their paintings to put up in the Centre. We’ve had visitors in, throughout the Centre, over the time we were open and they went away with a pretty good attitude towards the Centre.
Leanne Kelly: Another thing we’ve also included in our Centre is, we’ve got story boards, where we’ve taken different phases of history, over the last 100, 50 to 100 years. We’ve got things like looking at the Stolen Generation, we look at the Freedom Rides and we’ve included a bit of history over - about those things.
Liza Duncan: The Stolen Generations.
Leanne Kelly: The Aboriginal flag, just so people can come in and have a look at that. We’ve got those up on the wall.
Liza Duncan: People are just - there are people in the community that didn’t even know that that sort of stuff existed. They had no idea about the history of what happened to Aboriginal people. Why were they put on missions, why were the children taken, assimilation and all that stuff. People just walk out now, and they’ll even come up now and they apologise for what happened. So, yes, it’s been a positive feeling within the community.
Leanne Kelly: When we - the day that we opened - we sent out a lot of invitations to indigenous organisations, advertised the opening in the paper, but it was great to see that there was more non indigenous people at the opening. Just people from around Ashford - people you wouldn’t have expected. They came along to the opening, had lunch and now support the Centre. Not so much in coming in and out every day, they support the Centre as saying, look this is a great thing for Ashford.
The Ashford Business Council and the Ashford community look at it and say, well if you guys can bring more tourists into Ashford, we’re happy. It’s bringing more business and I think it’s - a lot of the members are now, there’s a bit of a pride…
Liza Duncan: Yes, it is.
Leanne Kelly: …that the Land Council’s up, it’s functioning. We’ve got something there that the members - the community wanted. We’ve identified in our plan the community wanted it, and we’ve got something there that’s - we can keep for further generations.
Liza Duncan: Yes, to also show that we, as an Aboriginal people, if we set out to achieve something, we can.
Leanne Kelly: Can do it.
Liza Duncan: Work together - we can do - together.
Last Updated: 5 July 2010
1 William Street
NSW 2010 Australia