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Sydney starts the consultation workshops for the MGA Indigenous Roadmap

We held the Sydney workshop on the 8 September for the Museums Galleries Australia Indigenous Roadmap in association with the Museum of Applied Arts and Science (MAAS), Sydney. It was the first workshop as we launch into the consultation phase of the project.

[Image] Marcus Hughes opening the workshop

The workshop ran for the entire day and sought to develop discussion around what people are wanting to see come out of the Indigenous Roadmap. The day was facilitated by Marcus Hughes, Head of Indigenous Engagement at MAAS, and Terri Janke.

A few speakers were invited to participate in two panels. Their knowledge of the museums and galleries sector, and its Indigenous engagement, helped to generate topics of discussion.

Caroline Martin, the managing director of Yalukit Marnang, discussed the history of museums and galleries, as well as the key role she held for 12 years, as the Manager of Bunjilaka Aboriginal Central Centre at Melbourne Museum. One of the clear points to takeaway was that there needs to be a collaborative approach rather than a consultative one. In developing the nationally and internationally recognised exhibition, First Peoples, collaboration was the key to presenting a Koorie perspective and was absolutely fundamental to its success.

Hayden Walsh, the Indigenous Program Producer at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, spoke next. Hayden is at the start of his career and his speech focused on the role that young people can play in museums and galleries. He said that in order to get them engaged, you have to give young people self-belief and a pathway so that they can create and develop news ways of presenting cultures.

[Video] Hayden Walsh's vision for the museums and galleries sector

Amanda Reynolds, Independent Curator, presented on the different exhibitions that she worked on throughout her career in order to consider the themes that enable good Indigenous engagement and collaboration. She said museums provide platforms for custodians to practice their culture. Projects like the possum skin cloak project promoted cultural revival. Other projects, such as the Wik Apelech involvement at the National Museum of Australia launch, enabled a platform to showcase Indigenous rights to country.

Susan Moylan-Coombs, Director at the Gaimaragal Group, spoke about the power of sharing stories. “To engage the community, you must establish a meaningful relationship and connection and make the message relevant. To do this, you must bring in Indigenous people to work collaboratively.” She also stated, ‘Not about us, without us.’

Ronald Briggs, Indigenous Librarian at the State Library of NSW, noted that there was an overlap between libraries and museums in that they both present and interpret Indigenous cultural material. He spoke in detail on his work on the SLNSW’s carved tree photograph exhibition. This illustrated how state agencies can collaborate with regional Aboriginal communities.

Tasha James, Manager of Indigenous Connections at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, spoke about employment, programs and access to collections. She also noted her previous experience at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies highlighting a special repatriation project which enabled return of materials to Indigenous communities.

Lauren Booker, Project Administrator for PARADISEC discussed accessibility to collections, revitalisation of language and the use of digital tools to enable community engagement and control. She said that we need to increase opportunities for working together cross sector on projects with shared benefits that focus on the community as a primary stakeholder. For instance, by involving communities, academics, research students, artists, and filmmakers.

In the afternoon, Robynne Quiggin, Trust Member of the Australian Museum, provided a short address to start the generation of ideas. She talked about the Australian Museum's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy and emphasised that the future was about the whole of the organisation taking responsibility and being open to new ways. This could be done, in part, by identifying principles that could be applied and guides to assist practice in many different areas across each institution.

For the rest of the day, participants formed groups to discuss a series of questions which helped that were aimed to identify the issues and case studies of good practice and to set goals for 2028, consider the challenges and to present strategies for achieving goals and measuring them. Overall, it was a productive day, and we thank the participants for their input.

If you missed out of the Sydney forum, be sure to head over to our Workshops page to see if you can make it to one of the other workshops that we are holding.

Click here to read more Tweets from the event



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