The Wet Tropics has been re-listed in order to officially recognise the status of rainforest Aboriginals.
A spokesman from the Aboriginal people, Conrad Yeatman, explained that his family bore emotional scars of having been displaced from their land; land to which they still feel a profound connection and he explained that his parents had been forced to leave their homes when they were young.
Yeatman said that by enshrining the land’s environmental value, the Aboriginal people have been hindered in their ability to seek rights and recognition, which many of them being removed forcibly from their parents and country in the past.
He spoke of his desire to see the listing re-classified on their land, so that his family could be reunited with each other on the land they should inherit and live within their wider community, to be at one and unified in their work together.
The Federal Government’s move to officially recognise the rainforest’s cultural heritage follows 25 years of original classification. The updating of the National Heritage Register has been welcomed by the rainforest aboriginal people and was marked by a happy but emotional ceremony at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, attended by members from twenty clan groups.
A representative from the Australian World Heritage Advisory Committee, Alison Halliday, said that the re-listing of the rainforest aboriginals’ cultural heritage was a positive step towards the land’s traditional owners in finding a ‘meaningful’ role in protecting and managing their country. Being a rainforest Aborigine herself, Alison explained that this role was ingrained within her people and they could bring their incredible knowledge of the land to benefit the wider conversation effort.
She said that the work was in its early days and that government resourcing and help would be needed to ensure that the country was looked after for everyone and that problems such as rainforest deforestation continued to be avoided.