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2022 AIATSIS Summit opens on Kabi Kabi Country to navigate the spaces in between

The 2022 AIATSIS Summit opened this morning on the traditional lands of the Kabi Kabi people of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast with a smoking ceremony led by Elder Maurice Mickelo. The first plenary session that followed included a musical performance by local musician Lyndon Davis and the opening address by AIATSIS CEO Craig Ritchie.

‘I am thrilled to be welcoming you to the largest Indigenous conference in Australia,’ Mr Ritchie told the gathering. 

‘This year we have more than 1000 delegates, of which 700 are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all over the country. We have more than 300 speakers covering five streams each day – 75 per cent of the speakers are First Nations people. We are also hosting international Indigenous brothers and sisters as part of the program. 

‘Critical to the work that AIATSIS does is this important conversation around decolonising, or perhaps even the decolonialising of the archive, transforming this instrument of colonial control of knowledge into a source of cultural resurgence and revitalisation. 

‘This year the summit will have a focus on improving the engagement of our education systems with stories and the cultures of First Nations people. There will be a conversation about recognition of our languages, our places, and our ways of seeing the world and understanding our place in it. There will be an important conversation about our place within higher education and particularly our place as knowledge holders within the academy. 

‘There’ll be another conversation about the issues around protecting our heritage understanding and respecting our science and the way that we have managed Country, and continue to manage Country now. 

‘Of course, critical to the summit in 2022 is the recognition that it is 30 years since the High Court brought down its decision in Mabo 2, the Mabo decision. 

‘All of these are our markers, points along our long and continuing stories as aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. But they are not the story itself. The story of our lives as individuals and as communities and as nations happens between these points as we take up the theme of this year’s summit – navigating the spaces in between events and places and times.

‘Navigating those spaces means that our focus is less on objects, trying to understand their detail, and much more on processes of interaction and relationship among and between those objects.’ 

In the parallel sessions that followed today’s opening speakers explored subthemes such as belonging and identity, with discussions on connection to Country and community, on sovereignty, on education, on future paths – sharing local experiences and successes across regions. 

Sessions over the coming week will consider the ambitions delegates hope to create for their communities, and what is needed to get there. The AIATSIS Summit is the opportunity for Indigenous peoples to discuss the matters that are priorities for their communities and to do so in formats that suit their needs.

The Kabi Kabi people of the Sunshine Coast region are the hosts for the 2022 AIATSIS Summit, which AIATSIS is organising in partnership with Queensland South Native Title Services.

Follow the summit in real time on social media: #aiatsisSUMMIT

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Last updated: 31 May 2022