Letter to Mick Gooda, Federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission & ATSISJC

Gary Murray
Commissioner Mick Gooda
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
Federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Level 8, Piccadilly Tower
133 Castlereagh Street Sydney NSW 2000
1 June 2011

Dear Commissioner Gooda,
Please find attached various Briefing Materials for your consideration with respect to a very public human rights and equal opportunity dispute arising from a decision by the Victorian Education and Early Childhood Department (VDEECD) to build a second school on the Ballerrt Mooroop College grounds at 208 Hilton Street Glenroy. BMC has been allocated $750,000 from Commonwealth and State education funds to develop a Master Plan and to upgrade its facilities. The second school is the Glenroy Specialist School (GSS) which has been allocated around $20m from Commonwealth and State education funds. The Commonwealth needs to be advised about the matters arising from the dispute with the State as they have a major funding interest in both schools.

The Ballerrt Mooroop College is on Wurundjeri Country. The BMC has operated as an Aboriginal School since 1995, it being the only Aboriginal School in Greater Melbourne.

The BMC is being discriminated against as the State is proceeding to destroy our Gathering Place, Spirit Tree and Ceremonial Ground within the Aboriginal Place Ballerrt Mooroop. Neither the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 or the Victorian Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2008 is able to resolve the matters in the dispute.

The VDEECD has failed to properly consult and negotiate with the BMC's School Council about the $20m new development on our site and the GSS Plan will destroy our cultural heritage areas - Spirit Tree, Ceremonial Ground and Gathering Place/Community Hub that also doubles as a gymnasium and community auditorium. The only consultations that have occurred happened after the decisions well into 2010 yet the CDEECD and GSS were planning the development from 2007.

Note also that many schools have been closed in our Region so it is not as if we need to put two schools on one site eg. Glenroy Primary, Campmeadows PS, etc, have all been closed.

Our traditions, customs, beliefs and observances including our ancient and traditional Smoking Ceremonies, Tanderrum Ceremonies, corroborees, art and craft practised and transmitted by Elders in the Gathering Place, and on the Ceremonial Ground and around the Spirit Tree will be desecrated for 168 unnecessary car parks (GSS has access to 100 car parks that are never filled even with Yooralla staff being there on site as well, so why 168?) and eighteen bus bays.

State and Commonwealth heritage law exists to protect our heritage as similar laws protect non-Indigneous heritage so we are using those laws although, at this point, the state law is deficient in recognising the link between ancient and contemporary traditions, customs, beliefs and observances.

Please find attached extracts of State and Commonwealth applications to protect our cultural heritage and the rights of our People including one of two Commonwealth Emergency Declarations lodged Friday and Sunday with respect to Ballerrt Mooroop College cultural heritage areas. The Commonwealth as part of the process have contacted the State with respect to the two applications for heritage protection. The State is continuing to implement the GSS project that will desecrate our heritage areas and undermine our traditions, customs, beliefs and observances.

The Commonwealth also has appointed a Vicbar Barrister Mr Chris Horan to inquire into the cultural significance and destruction of our heritage by VDEECD. This process is ongoing and the State has in effect ignored the process.

The Wurundjeri have also lodged an application for a Stop Order (section 87) and Interim and Ongoing Protection Orders (section 96 and 103)applications pursuant to of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (VAHA) as well. Wuurndjeri have advised that the advice provided by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria an arm of State Government is that the Ballerrt Mooroop College does not fit the definition of Aboriginal Place under the VAHA and therefore the State can proceed with the GSS development.

Finally, at a BMC Support Gathering on Sunday attended by some 80 BMC, BLAECG, Broadmeadows and Glenroy residents and other Support Groups it was unanimous that we continue the social justice, human rights, legal and political actions.

The BMC were never consulted by the state from the start of the GSS development in 2007, not involved in proper negotiations particularly in 2010 to now, nor did the BMC School Council give free, prior and informed consent to the building of another school on site. The solution is simply to move the GSS development westerly about thirty metres or to another vacant school site of which there are several within a crow's breath.

It is requested that the Commission intervene on our behalf and take up the issues with the State arising from this major Victorian human rights dispute. We would also request a meeting with you on Wurundjeri Country and the BMC so that we can talk to you first hand about our Community's concerns.

See Yaalong the Rivers and Lakes, in the Mallee, Up the Mountain or in the Big Smoke,
MARGARET GARDINER
WURUNDJERI ELDER
&
GARY MURRAY
WAMBA WAMBA ELDER
&
BROADMEADOWS LOCAL ABORIGINAL EDUCATION CONSULTATIVE GROUP

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