Aboriginal burial traditions facing harsher criminalisation in NT

Yingiya Mark Guyula

The National Indigeneous Times reports  Indigenous burial customs are facing harsher criminalisation through the introduction of the Burial and Cremation Bill 2019 in the Northern Territory Parliament.  The Bill was introduced in the Parliament’s August sittings and, if passed, it will enforce regulations around the burial of Indigenous Australians on Indigenous land.

Indigenous Australians burying relatives outside of the Government recognised cemeteries will see their traditional customs and actions criminalised if permission is not sought and granted from a Darwin-based bureaucrat.

Yolngu man and Member for Nhulunbuy in the NT Legislative Assembly, Yingiya Mark Guyula said this new Bill is an attack on Aboriginal culture.

“Our people, when they die, become sacred objects. With this Bill the Government are not showing respect to our sacred traditions,” Mr Guyula said.

The Member for Nhulunbuy said Traditional Owners “will not bow down and ask permission” to bury kin in accordance with Yolngu law.

“This is bad law, that criminalises our traditions and has the potential to imprison more Aboriginal people. This is part of an ongoing undermining of Aboriginal authority on our land and of our people,” Mr Guyula said

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Related Links

Briefing Web Page

Key Documents

PDF Document IconBurial and Cremation Bill 2019 (Serial 97)
PDF Document IconExplanatory Statement 
PDF Document IconStatement of Compatibility with Human Rights
PDF Document IconCemeteries Act 1952 (NT)

Public Briefing

PDF Document IconPublic Briefing Schedule - 21 August 2019
PDF Document IconTranscript - Public Briefing - 21 August 2019