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News & events of the Kaurareg homeland of Kaiwalagal, the Torres Strait homeland, and Cape York homelands of the Anggamuthi, Atambaya, Wuthathi, Yadhaykenu and Gudang Peoples
6 - 12 June 2012 • Thursday Island • www.torresnews.com.au • firstname.lastname@example.org • Edition No. 1017 • $2.00 inc. GST
Segar Passi takes 2012 award SEGAR Passi has been named winner of the prestigious Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award, taking home $5000 for his painting, Native Title: Our Land and Sea Rights, during opening night celebrations at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Wednesday, May 30. The Torres Strait Regional Authority alternate deputy chairperson Kenny Bedford congratulated Mr Passi and commended all artists on their unique entries. “An impressive variety of artwork, including headdresses, paintings, weavings, sculptures and carvings, has been submitted by 44 artists across 14 communities in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area.” Mr Bedford described the calibre of works entered into the Award as “outstanding”, but said that this was not surprising given the immense talent that existed within communities in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area. For the second time, a theme was selected for the Art Award, creating an opportunity for local artists to communicate the importance of Native Title and their connections to the land and sea areas in the Torres Strait. Nancy Naawi was awarded runner-up for her etching, Ring Tides, receiving $2000 in prize money. Sub-category winners were: Best Craft Work: Rachel Emma Gela (Erub); Best Cultural Artefact: Gordon Hammond (Horn); and Best Work on Paper/Canvas: Jeff Waia (Saibai). The National Museum of Australia - History Through Art Award which recognises artworks that best capture aspects of the histories of Torres Strait Islander lives and experiences, went to Joseph Au for his lino print, Badu Harbour. Highly commended awards went to: Betty Tekahika, Mer, Laurie Nona, Badu, Maryann Bourne, Erub, Mersane Loban, Moa, and Solomon Booth, Moa. Commended awards went to: Frank Whap, Mabuiag, Ella Rose Savage, Erub, Andrew Passi Snr, Mer, Zacharia Gaidan, Badu, and Weldon Matasia, Badu. Community members still have a chance to vote for their favourite work, which will help to decide the winner of the 2012 People’s Choice Award. This winner will be announced in the Torres News in July and is set to receive a total of $1000 in prize money. A catalogue showcasing all works featured in the 2012 Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award will be available for purchase from Gab Titui Cultural Centre from August, 2012.
Judge’s comments GUEST judge Tom Mosby, executive manager of Indigenous Research and Projects at the State Library of Queensland, said he based his selection of artworks on artistic quality, composition and individuality. “As usual, the entries this year reflect the diversity of contemporary Torres Strait Islander art practice, and the number of entries continues to demonstrate the recognition of the importance of the visual arts to personal development,” Mr Mosby said. “The task of choosing a winning work and category winners is a difficult and unenviable one, particularly when faced with such a range of materials and techniques, and I would like to congratulate each artist on their entry.”
Winner of the Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award, Mer artist Segar Passi, explains the finer details of his painting, Native Title: Our Land and Sea Rights , to award judge Tom Mosby. Photo courtesy George Serras, National Museum of Australia.
HISTORIC OCCASION: Kaurareg Tribal Council of Elders’ Seriat Young in a special performance with the Kaurareg Dance Team at the Gag Titui Indigenous Art Award on Wednesday, May 30. Photo MARK ROY. More photos >> page 13.
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Mabo Day an opportunity to reﬂect and look to the future “. . . while a lot of progress had been made, much remained to be done to maintain Torres Strait culture and to improve living standards for all Torres Strait people.” - TSRA Chairman John “Toshie” Kris.
THE Mabo Day public holiday has been welcomed as an opportunity for Torres Strait Islander and mainland communities to reflect on the last 20 years and to look to future challenges. Torres Strait Regional Authority Chairperson Mr John ‘Toshie’ Kris said that, while a lot of progress had been made, much remained to be done to maintain Torres Strait culture and to improve living standards for all Torres Strait people. In May, 1982, the late Mr Eddie Koiki Mabo and fellow Murray Islanders, David Passi, Sam Passi, James Rice and Celuia Salee instituted a claim in the High Court for native title to Mer Island in Torres Strait. The Queensland Government responded by seeking to legislate to extinguish any native title on the islands retrospectively. The counter move was challenged in the High Court on the grounds that it was
inconsistent with the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act. The High Court, in a historic judgement delivered on June 3, 1992, accepted the claim from Eddie Mabo and the other claimants that their people had occupied the island of Mer for hundreds of years before the arrival of the British. This decision overturned a legal ﬁction that Australia was Terra Nullius, a land belonging to no-one, at the time of colonisation. Mr Kris said the national implications of the court decision provided hope and a way forward for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. “That hope is tempered by the fact that native title is sometimes still a contentious and ongoing issue for the Torres Strait and other Australian communities.” Mr Kris said the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) had called
on the new Queensland government to commit to ﬁnalising an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) to speed up approvals for housing and infrastructure developments. “The TSRA, as the Native Title Representative Body for the Torres Strait region, put a proposal to the Queensland government for a model ILUA more than two years ago. “The proposed model ILUA could be adopted for use on those Torres Strait Islands where the Federal Court has recognised that native title exists. “The TSRA worked to draft the model ILUA with each of the Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs), which have been appointed to address matters on behalf of native title holders. “The ILUA contains many innovations but an underlying objective is to ensure that native title on the Islands is dealt with in a comparable way to ‘mainstream’ land titles such as freehold.
“This reflects the fact that on each of the Islands the Federal Court has determined that the native title comprises rights held by native title holders to possess, occupy, use and enjoy native title land. “This is similar to the ‘exclusive possession’ rights that freehold land owners enjoy.” Mr Kris said the TSRA and PBCs had been motivated by a commitment to speed up agreements so that housing and infrastructure projects can take place. “As a ‘one stop shop’ agreement which satisﬁes both native title and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage lore, the model ILUA will allow projects to proceed far more quickly than if they had to address legal requirements on a project by project basis. Mr Kris said signiﬁcant progress had been achieved in improving living standards throughout the Torres Strait
and Northern Peninsula area despite the continuation of lengthy negotiations to ﬁnalise the model ILUA. “Since 1999 more than $208 million dollars has been spent on infrastructure to improve environmental health in Torres Strait communities. “The funding has been provided equally by the Australian government and the Queensland government and has helped to greatly improve water supply, sanitation, roads and drainage as well as develop serviced housing lots and improve the maintenance of existing assets. “The Australian government has committed another $20 million dollars to continue the Major Infrastructure Program and we will ﬁnd out in September whether the new Queensland government will deliver matching funds in its ﬁrst budget.” EDDIE MABO PHOTO courtesy of James Cook University
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