Traditional burial rites are currently under threat for Aboriginal peoples in the Northern Territory. The 2019 Burial and Cremation Bill is currently before the NT Parliament and if passed, would criminalise anyone who performs traditional burials outside a cemetery and without bureaucratic approval. The penalty would include a fine up to $31,000 or two years imprisonment.
For First Nations peoples, the burial process of deceased loved ones is an important and sacred cultural practice. This Bill is in breach of Indigenous human rights and threatens to put more Aboriginal people in the already over-represented prison system and increase the financial burden during sorry business.
We support Concerned Australians in calling for relevant ministers to reconsider this bill immediately, and for the Chief Minister to ‘re-engage with Aboriginal elders, representatives of the land councils and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency to allow local, culturally sensitive decision making about burials on Aboriginal lands.’
Numerous Yolngu leaders and organisations have spoken up against this Bill.
"If someone stops our cultural obligation to carry on our burial practices then they are stopping who we are. It is the worst form of disrespect in the world,"
said Community leaders of the Galpu and Golpa Clans of Elcho Island, who also call for amendments of the bill to not include Aboriginal land, especially traditional homelands (ABC).
Join us in prayer and take action with us to call for urgent amendments to this bill.