AIATSIS celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014 and will host a Sea of Hands installation in the grounds at Acton Peninsula on the sixth anniversary of the National Apology made by the Australian Parliament on 13 February 2008.
What is The Sea of Hands?
The ANTAR-sponsored Sea of Hands consists of thousands of hands in the colours of the Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag – red, yellow, black, blue, green and white, mounted on wire and stuck in the ground. Each hand contains the name of at least one person who supported the Australian Citizens Statement on Native Title. The Sea of Hands was originally installed in front of Parliament House on 12 October 1997. Many volunteers came to set up the hands and by early afternoon the speeches and entertainment got underway. Wik Elder, Ms Tybingoompa, and Camilla Cowley, pastoralist, were among the speakers, and Tiddas and other bands performed. At that time it was claimed to be the largest public art installation ever made in Australia. The Sea of Hands then toured Australia. Each venue used a different design and local people came together to make the designs. The Sea of Hands tour won the 1998 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s Human Rights Award.
Who is ANTAR?
The Sea of Hands is an ANTAR initiative. ANTAR is a national voluntary organisation that was set up in the wake of the new and evolving native title legislation in Australia which was generating huge hope on the part of Indigenous Australians and huge "uncertainty" and worry on the part of non-Indigenous Australians. The initials of the word ANTAR stood for "Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation". Today ANTAR retains the initials but works for "Justice, rights and respect for Australia's First People".
Sea of Hands as a Community Event
As ANTAR Victoria says: The Sea of Hands is commonly used during Sorry Day, Reconciliation week and NAIDOC celebrations as a colourful reminder of the commitment of the Australian people to genuine reconciliation and as a gesture of respect for Aboriginal culture and tradition.
The Sea of Hands is a wonderful way to bring people together. In 2014 AIATSIS is proud to host the Sea of Hands to commemorate the National Apology of 2008 and to remind us of the many paths to Reconciliation.