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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts

Speech to NPY Women's Council, Alice Springs - arts launch

E&OE Transcript
NPY Women's Council
Alice Springs
8 June 2010

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OSTER: [Chief Executive Officer, Desart]: [tape failed]that Senate inquiry came up with a list of important recommendations and I am constantly delighted the current Government any you Minister, have taken those recommendations on almost as an article of faith, and that has set the scene for some important policy settings. And I would just like to mention that as some grounding for some of the comments the Minister might make today.

Minister, you have been an enormous supporter of the sector. You have taken a deep interest in this sector. Your constant visits to Alice Springs are welcome. You have become a friend of this town and a friend of this sector and I have great pleasure in welcoming you here today.

GARRETT: Thank you very much John, and to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Arrernte people. Jane, thank you so much for the welcome and also for giving me a couple of good Desart books which I will read in the plane going back. Andrea, it is a great pleasure for me to be here today.

Indigenous arts and culture support programs

We're very fortunate in this country to have the longest continuous tradition of story telling, of dance and song, by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. And that is why it is important that we continue to promote and protect this country's Indigenous arts, culture, languages and heritage. When we do this, it makes us richer as a country, helps us sustain the country and it acknowledges the history and the traditions and the culture of this country.

We administer a number of funding programs that go towards that protection and they are designed to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people take part in cultural activities and to assist in the transmission of knowledge and skills across generations. Each program is designed to support different aspects of Indigenous arts and culture and heritage.

The National Arts and Crafts Industry Support Program (NACIS) — that is the program that assist art centres to become stronger — helps to build a more sustainable Indigenous visual arts industry. And I want to be very clear that we see the long-term prospects for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and art in terms not only of transmission, but in terms of building a sustainable market both here and overseas, as a very positive one.

The Indigenous Broadcasting Program, which supports the Indigenous community radio services through remote, regional and also urban Australia. The Indigenous Culture Support Program, maintaining and developing Indigenous culture in local communities. The Maintenance of Indigenous Languages and Records program, supporting a network of community based language centres and language organisations. And finally the heritage program, the Indigenous Heritage Program, recognising that Indigenous heritage is a significant part of Australia's past, present and future story and that we want to help conserve those places that are important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

So I am very pleased to announce today that the Government is making a significant investment in a number of the Northern Territories Indigenous arts, culture and heritage projects. Five programs will be providing a total of close to $13million to 96 projects across the Northern Territory. And I think that is a terrific announcement that I am very pleased to make and John, I have got to tell you that every time I come into this part of the world I go away refreshed but also increasingly passionate about the need for us to continue to maintain this support for the work that is done here and for the living culture that is so important here.

This $13 million commitment includes commitment in the National Arts and Crafts Industry Support program for our hosts today, the NPY Women's Council, contributing to the operational costs for the Tjanpi Desert Weavers enterprise. As well as some $86,500 from the Indigenous Culture Support Program for two projects as well.

So congratulations to everyone involved and I am really looking forward to seeing the work that comes from there.

Other Northern Territory projects to receive support. Some $620,000 through the Indigenous Broadcasting Program to the Top End Aboriginal Bush Broadcasting Association. They are operating support for remote Indigenous media organisations, service delivery to some 27 licensed RIBS' — Remote Indigenous Broadcasting Services — across the Top End. $64,800 through the Indigenous Culture Support Program for the WTPA Corporation in Alice Springs for an initiative — this is about exchanging information for child rearing practices between young Indigenous mothers and elders in Central Australia.

Some $312,000 for the Maintenance of Indigenous Languages and Records program for the Wadeye Aboriginal Languages Centre to maintain and revive Marri and Murrinhpatha languages and develop an online dictionary there.

$87,870 through the Indigenous Heritage Support Program for the fragile first impressions project to record rock art in the Warrdeken Indigenous Protected Area in western Arnhem Land. I am very excited about this project too, given that we announced a significant Indigenous Protected Area there recently. Evaluating the areas heritage needs, interpreting the historical and cultural significance, and undertaking basic conservation works.

And $632,940 from the National Arts and Crafts Industry Support Program to contribute to Desart's upgrade of the industry based Indigenous Art Management Support Database. This is an important two year project which will provide a centralised web based operation system for member art centres and increase online connectivity and marketing opportunities.

Closing the gap

Friends and colleagues here, not only do these programs support projects that are really exciting and important in their own right but they are also a vital part of the Government's Indigenous reform agenda more generally.

We see these projects as contributing to the overall wellbeing of Indigenous communities, providing employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians and the opportunities for economic and sustainable activity to be ongoing.

The Maintenance of Indigenous Languages Program is also very important because it underpins the National Indigenous Language policy that was announced by Minister Macklin and myself last year. And that is establishing a framework for strategic support for Indigenous languages overtime. And the funding on this program supporting some 13 projects in the Northern Territory in 2010-11.

I am really pleased that after introducing triennial funding that the there has been a marked increase in the number of organisations applying for and receiving funding for 201011. In fact we had 6 exemplary Northern Territory organisations selected for triennial funding for last year and they will receive a total of $1.3 million in 2010-11. This will make a big contribution to longer term planning for these organisations and it will also help them get broader support. And I do know how important that funding certainty can be for organisations. It is a message that we have heard consistently from you and I am very, very pleased that we are now starting to be able to put some of these organisations on a triennial funding basis.

Resale royalty scheme

Of course there are other ways that the Government is providing support for Indigenous artists in addition to direct funding. And as you will probably know, from tomorrow Australia will join 50 countries around the world that have implemented a resale royalty scheme for visual artists.

For the first time in this country, visual artists will be entitled to a share of the profits in their own work when it is resold. This is an absolute landmark day for Australias visual artists and an extremely important day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, many of whom have seen their work resold at increased prices overtime during the course of their career. They will now be able to share in the benefit of the increased value of their work and it is a right that they deserve and it is a right that I, as the Minister for Arts, am absolutely proud to be able to give to them on behalf of the Australian people and on behalf of the Government.

Importantly, this right acknowledges that art enriches all our lives and that artists should be rewarded for their contribution to Australian life.

We have got the Copyright Agency Limited or CAL appointed for the next five years by the Government to administer the scheme and they have the power to pursue payments of royalties on behalf of artists. And so I encourage all of the dealers, all of the arts industry, to get behind this resale royalty scheme. And queries, any questions, any problems, contact CAL. A dedicated website will be launched tomorrow with the commencement of the scheme.

It is really important that we recognise that amongst the most significant beneficiaries of the introduction of the resale royalty scheme will be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. We have seen the Indigenous art market boom after the last decade and more. There is much deserved national and international acclaim in the distinctive work that people are producing and I never, ever, ever cease to be amazed at the deep well of creativity that is emanating from visual artists both in this region and right around Australia and particularly from Indigenous artists.

Importantly, Indigenous visual art provides employment, it generate income for individuals and communities and most importantly it encourages Indigenous artists to continue to create work, preserving and telling the stories at the same time contributing to the evolution of what has been an extraordinary and will be a long lasting phenomenon.

I am really confident that this reform over time will deliver additional support for Australia's visual artists, in particular for Australia's Indigenous artists and their communities.

It has been a great pleasure to be able to speak about the support that we are giving here in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory today. Thank you very much for having us here and I am going to come over to that shop and have a look at some of the work that is being produced.

Thank you


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