An Aboriginal Obligation to Country: Challenging The Status Quo
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Australian Aboriginal Traditional Owner ancestral responsibilities to Country involves listening and exercising vested responsibilities and duties of care, passed down from generation to generation through clan and familial connections. Traditional Owners is a term used to describe today’s descendants of the original Aboriginal inhabitants and have ongoing cultural and spiritual connections to land and water where their ancestors lived. The incorporation of Traditional Owner relationships to Country and the need to engage with Traditional Owners in Western planning regimes are often expressed positively; that Aboriginal needs and aspirations need to be recognized in the urban landscape. However in practice, decisions involving the address of Aboriginal aspirations are usually made in a generic context rather than a Country and knowledge specific context. This can have adverse effects on obligations to Country stewardship, and Custodial perceptions are being ignored and negated. Improving our understanding of how Traditional ancestral obligations to Country are expressed and embodied within the context of generic Western planning instruments, is critical as cities expand and increase the pressures and threats on Traditional Owners Country, their resources, their cultural heritage, their knowledge and their histories. This paper contributes to this understanding by focusing upon Traditional Owner communities in the Brisbane metropolitan region who are attempting to address their responsibility to Country through Western State and local planning instruments. This paper draws on empirical data collected through interviews and observations between 2013-2015 with the Quandamooka communities and a content analysis of current planning instruments. The paper reports on their obligations of and to Country and the consequences that engagement within Western planning instruments has had upon their Traditional Ownership well-being and landscape health. Lessons learned from this case study are discussed to offer future planning policy initiatives that could better meet the needs of Traditional Owners in Australian cities.
State of Australian Cities Conference 2015: Refereed Proceedings
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Urban and Regional Planning not elsewhere classified