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Thursday 19 January 2017

Aboriginal anger over Australian heritage 'whitewash'

Bonnie Malkin in Sydney

Published 04/08/2010 | 05:00

Australia's cultural heritage has been "whitewashed", Aborigines have claimed, after 11 sites relating to the country's colonial past were recipients of Unesco World Heritage status.

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Eighteen sites were nominated and among those added to the World Heritage List were Sydney's 19th Century Hyde Park Barracks, the Fremantle prison and Tasmania's Port Arthur penal settlement, which Unesco deemed of "outstanding universal value".

The listing will ensure protection for the buildings, but the move has outraged Aboriginal activists, who claim their own heritage is being destroyed.

Michael Mansell, the director of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, said Aboriginal sites were also in need of protection.

"What we have got is about 50,000 years of human existence and evidence of that existence from one end of the country to the other," he said. "None of that heritage has been nominated by Australia as worthy of world heritage status.

"In the meantime, 200 years of white history has resulted in 18 nominations.

"That suggests a strong ethnocentric bias towards everything Anglo-Saxon and a prejudice or ignorance about the Aboriginal past and a lack of understanding of its value."

Uluru -- or Ayers Rock -- and the Kakadu National Park were already on the list but several significant sites relating to the country's Aboriginal past were absent from this year's nominations, he said.

Mr Mansell named 20,000-year-old rock art in the Northern Territory, a recently discovered treasure trove of ancient artefacts outside Hobart and scarred trees in New South Wales used by tribes during coming of age ceremonies, as worthy of immediate protection. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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