Ambassador discovers AIATSIS Swiss link

Friday, 14 February 2014 (All day)
Mr Thomas Aeschi, Swiss Ambassador to Australia Mr Marcel Stutz and Dr Stefan Kloetzli are shown a rare book by AIATSIS Librarian Rita Metzenrath.
Mr Thomas Aeschi, Swiss Ambassador to Australia Mr Marcel Stutz and Dr Stefan Kloetzli are shown a rare book by AIATSIS librarian Rita Metzenrath.

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) hosted a special delegation from Switzerland today – to their surprise they discovered a Swiss link with AIATSIS’ work deep in the archives.

During a tour of the AIATSIS archival facilities, the party made up of Swiss Ambassador to Australia, Mr Marcel Stutz, Member of Swiss Parliament Mr Thomas Aeschi and Deputy Head of Mission Dr Stefan Kloetzli, discovered many examples of Swiss technology hard at work playing old tapes as part of the AIATSIS preservation process.

Member of Swiss Parliament Mr Thomas Aeschi said Switzerland has a long tradition of producing fine audio technology.

“We still export a lot of high end machinery today. Of course I am very glad we can contribute to the restoration of such valuable audiovisual documents that helps put together a history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” said Mr Aeschi.

“I was deeply impressed with what we saw today. It’s incredible how difficult it is to put together all the pieces of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture that have been captured, to create a complete picture.

“For me as a Swiss person, it was amazing to learn what incredible variety there was on the Australian continent pre-colonisation. It is not something we were taught in school in Switzerland.” Mr Aeschi and Ambassador Stutz both have a keen interest in learning more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. AIATSIS staff were on hand to give an overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, languages and research. 

Ambassador Stutz said many Swiss were victims of the traditional view of Australian history – that the English discovered Australia. “Whereas the reality, as we have learned today was that the Aboriginal people discovered Cook, and to twist the story like that is extremely important and I hope it will give us a better understanding of what the reality of Australia is,” Ambassador Stutz said.

AIATSIS is the national keeping place of Australia’s Indigenous cultural heritage, intrinsic to our national identity. It affirms the important place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our nation and across the globe.

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Last reviewed: 6 Aug 2015