One year since the destruction of Juukan Gorge and nothing has changed

Today we commemorate and grieve the loss of Juukan Gorge, a sacred site cared for by the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (Binigura) Peoples of Western Australia.

Sunday, 23 May 2021 at 11:46 pm
Melbourne metropolitan
Department of Premier and Cabinet

For over 46,000 years the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (Binigura) Peoples have actively used these caves as a place of significance to their culture and spirituality. In one grotesque act of destruction, Rio Tinto destroyed the site to advance their mining interest on 24 May 2020.

On this day, one year ago, the world responded with horror to such an act of violence to the story of global humanity. However, since that day, nothing has changed.

Admittedly, governance at Rio Tinto may have fluctuated and the minerals sectors’ understanding of their shareholders may now be more informed, but no greater protections for Aboriginal Culture and Heritage have been introduced. Anywhere.

Not in Western Australia where the violence and act of terrorism occurred. Nor through federal protections. And certainly not in Victoria, where the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council are fighting for change.

In fact, in 12 months, numerous other acts of careless and informed destruction have occurred. That such public, international condemnation can have followed the destruction of Juukan Gorge and the basic protections for Aboriginal Cultural Heritage remain ineffective, reveals the racism inherent in legislation, the minerals’ sector and the application of cultural value.

In the place now known as Victoria, the destruction of a sacred stone site in the Western District reveals the lack of importance placed on preservation of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and the absence of any real disincentive.

Council calls on all Australians to support Traditional Owners in their call for real and powerful change to state, territory and federal legislations to preserve and protect the oldest living culture on earth.

Rodney Carter