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The 2023 AIATSIS Summit opened on Noongar boodja to navigate the spaces in between

Jodie Sizer, Chair, AIATSIS

The 2023 AIATSIS Summit has officially opened on the lands of the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation; the Traditional Owners of Boorloo (Perth). Delegates were welcomed by Whadjuk Elder, Geri Hayden, and treated to a powerful ceremonial tribute of Noongar dances. The first plenary session opened with addresses from the Chair of the Summit partner the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC), Brendan Moore, a speech by the Chair of AIATSIS Council, Jodie Sizer, and a keynote address by Ambassador Justin Mohamed, Australia’s inaugural Ambassador for First Nations People.  

“Our gathering is particularly important now, more than ever, with First Nations Affairs in the forefront of the country’s minds. Coming together for our people, networking, connecting, and making new relationships. This is the way we do our business,’ Ms Sizer told the gathering.  

‘This year, we have more than 1,400 delegates and over 400 speakers covering five streams each day and hosting our International Indigenous brothers and sisters as part of the program’.  

‘This year’s theme, 'Navigating the spaces in between’, foregrounds and celebrates the brilliance and value of Indigenous ways of knowing, seeing and being. The Summit provides an opportunity to bring conversations from the periphery into focus, recognising that there are opportunities for innovation, risks, and complexity in the spaces in between. The theme speaks of the importance of relationships, connections, and bonds of trust and reciprocity. It suggests a focus on a journey and destination but also requires us to reflect on where we came from”.  

Mr Moore, Chair of the SWALSC said, “We thank AIATSIS for partnering with SWALSC, and we welcome everyone from across Australia who is with us on Noongar boodja for the 2023 AIATSIS Summit. We are djirpin (so very proud) to share our beautiful land and culture’.  

‘We invite all delegates to join in the Noongar spirit of Quop Wirrin and reach out, ask questions, and talk to someone you’ve never met before and during this important and unique collaborative forum.”  

The Honourable Linda Burney MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians, finished day one formalities with an inspiring address, “When I spoke to you last year at the AIATSIS Summit on Kabi Kabi Country, it was just a week after I had the honour of being appointed as Minister for Indigenous Australians. I spoke with great enthusiasm about the things I’d be working on, the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, justice reinvestment, and the NT homelands. replacing CDP and Closing the Gap, and a year on we’ve made progress……thank you for inviting me again this year’. 

‘AIATSIS is vital to preserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and stories, and your annual summits are one of the ways we strengthen our cultures and knowledge. First Nations stories are fundamental to the national conversation about our country’s history. The work you do to bring cultural material held overseas back to Australia - lets the world know that our culture deserves respect – thank you.”  

In the parallel sessions that followed day one of the AIATSIS Summit 2023 opening, speakers explored subthemes such as belonging and identity, with discussions on connection to Country and community, sovereignty, education, and future paths – sharing local experiences and successes across regions.  

Sessions over the coming week will consider delegates’ ambitions for their communities and what is needed to get there. The AIATSIS Summit is an opportunity for Indigenous peoples to discuss the priorities for their communities and do so in an environment that suits their needs. 

For more details, please see -

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Last updated: 06 June 2023