Records of Hazel Hawke. Speeches delivered by Mrs Hazel Hawke, 1988. JCPML00350/5.




I am delighted to be with you here today and to meet the elders and members of the Anmatjira and Warlpiri tribes. I feel deeply honoured that you have asked me to open this Yuelamu Art Gallery and Museum.

I have been greatly interested to learn about your community and the way you have developed the Mount Allan Station. Your self-sufficiency and the way that you have managed the station and community store, in the face of difficult drought conditions, has to be applauded.

Now you have demonstrated your enterprise again by deciding to open up this beautiful area to tourism. I am sure it will be attractive to many other Australians who will want to come and visit the Gallery and Museum, to admire your work and purchase it, and to participate in activities around the station. There can be no doubt that your arts, crafts and pastoral skills deserve to be on display.

Not before time, items of aboriginal art and craft are gaining recognition and value throughout the world and are much sought after by art collectors. In addition, traditional Aboriginal designs have inspired modern designs of artistic and commercial products such as pottery and fabrics.

I was personally delighted to have the opportunity to see the many works of art and other Aboriginal artefacts which are on display in the Gallery and Museum. It must be gratifying to you that the Yuelamu Art is becoming better known outside the Mount Allan area. As a community of artistic people the Yuelamu Community must have a great future ahead.

Even more important perhaps has been your decision to preserve for generations to come those traditions and skills which are unique to the culture of the Yuelamu Community. It is regrettable that so often in the past our predecessors have taken with them many valuable memories and cultural skills. It is therefore of great significance that you have decided to recreate your sacred ground painting of the Yuelamu Honey Ant Dreaming and to preserve it in a permanent keeping place.

I am particularly pleased that the keeping place is becoming a reality for you. Even though its sanctity limits the number of people who may be able to see the ground painting the fact that it will preserve such an important and sacred part of your heritage, and indeed of Australia's heritage, will be welcomed by all Australians.

It is no coincidence that this project has come to fruition in our bicentennial year. The Anmatjira and Warlpiri communities, along with many other Aboriginal communities throughout Australia, have taken the opportunity afforded by the bicentennial celebrations to preserve and promote their unique culture for the benefit of all Australians.

The Australian Bicentennial Authority set aside $7.5 million for a Bicentennial National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program. The program has been designed to commemorate, preserve and promote Aboriginal life, people, events, customs and achievements: and to promote great social harmony and understanding between Aborigines and non-Aborigines. An amount of $100,000 was provided to help build this museum and keeping place.

What I have seen on my visit here fulfills in every respect the aims and objectives of the program.

Congratulations to all of you who have worked hard and contributed to making this project a reality: Aboriginal elders, people of the Anmatjira and Warlpiri tribes, Mr Didi Smith, members of the Australian Bicentennial Authority and many others.

It is hope that Mount Allan will become not only an important centre to house Aboriginal art, but also a successful centre of Aboriginal enterprise.

It is with great pleasure that I declare open the Yuelamu Art Gallery and Museum.