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Teaching Heritage

Board of Studies NSW

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Tony McAvoy

Manager, Heritage and Natural Resources Branch, NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs

I think Aboriginal people need to be competent in their right to express their cultural practices as cultural practices and as their entitlement, their inherent rights, so that if Aboriginal people wish to undertake some activity, some cultural activity within a National Park, the fact that there are regulations which prohibit that activity should not be in the first instance a deterrent. If there are activities that people need to undertake to maintain the continuity of tradition and heritage, then they should look to means outside the regular framework which has been developed say over the last twenty years. You get people enjoying celebrations such as a coming–of-age of somebody’s twenty-first birthday, now that is an evolution for urbanised Aboriginal people, but it’s still a recognition of a ceremonial coming-of-age and that practice is as much a part of modern Aboriginal cultural experience, and therefore heritage, as perhaps some earlier types of traditional ceremony.

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