Submissions: Your Feedback

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Submission Number
Dr Aunty Matilda House, Paul House & Ngambri (Kamberri) Family Group
Submission date

Dear Co-design,

On behalf of the Ngambri (Kamberri) Family Group and local Ngambri Leader, Dr Aunty Matilda House, I would like to provide the following formal information/submission in relation to the Local, Regional and National Voice for the ACT.

The Ngambri would like to advise the Australian Government, National Indigenous Affairs (NIAA) that the current ACT Government exclusive one tribe policy that currently only acknowledges the Ngunnawal is offensive, disrespectful and does not fit into the Uluru Statement, in particular, the Truth Telling component. The inequity and blatant exclusion of Ngambri people and provenance is reflected in their current Legislation, Policy and Procedures including the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body Act 2008 (ATSIEB Act 2008) .

The discriminatory and racist ATSIEB Act 2008, excludes the Ngambri, divides the ACT First Nation communities by creating and compounding intergenerational trauma by the non-acknowledgement of Ngambri people, in particular our Elders, Youth and People with Disabilities. The Ngambri, a historically dispossessed people are now being told by a contemporary local ACT government and it’s bureaucrat’s, they don’t exist. For example, the ACT Governments one tribe policy is reflected in the ATSIEB Act 2008, which reflects Part 2, 9 (1) of the act that states ‘Consultation on cultural and heritage’ to the United Ngunnawal Elders Council (UNEC) at the exclusion of Ngambri people.

The ACT Government over many years has allowed and supported UNEC to bully and harass Ngambri people away from a shared and inclusive decision making table. Careful consideration should be given for the potential use to adopt or link with the current ACT ATSIEB Act 2008, as a model to choose members for a Local/Regional or National membership. Any current ACT Government’s ATSI representation models should not be considered or used due to their exclusive and discriminatory approach against the Ngambri people.

Please note the Australian Government via the House of Representatives and Senate i.e. Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament acknowledges both the Ngambri and Ngunnawal peoples respectively.

In 2021, because the ACT Government implements a one tribe exclusive Ngunnawal policy via legislation, policy and procedure etc, they exclude themselves for buy in with the Local and Regional and National Co-Design process i.e. Voice, Treaty, and Truth Telling process by excluding the Ngambri people. Furthermore, they exclude themselves from the Local and Regional Voice Proposed principles, particularly, ‘Empowerment, Inclusive Participation, Community-led Design, Respectful Long-term Partnerships, Transparency and Accountability and Data and Evidence-based Decision Making.

Where is the inclusiveness in the ACT Governments approach? The ACT Government can easily be inclusive by changing their policy and approach by acknowledging all local ACT cultural and linguistic groups claiming connection to country including the Ngambri. The evidence of Ngambri provenance is powerful and compelling , located in the ethno-historical records which sits in their own back yard in the Parliamentary Triangle and other Educational institutions within the ACT.

I would like to share the following Ngambri (Kamberri) information sourced from the “Ngambri Ancestral Names, For Geographical Places and Features in the ACT and Surround’ by Ann Jackson-Nakano. This publication was requested and funded by the ACT Government in 2004 and is on the public record, located in the National Library of Australia and reflects some of the historical truths of Ngambri identity.

The name, Canberra, formerly rendered into Roman script as ‘Canburry’ or ‘Canberry’ by the earliest non-Aboriginal settlers in Ngambri country, is derived from the name of the Aboriginal ancestral group who once held sway in the region that now incorporates the Australian Capital Territory and surrounding areas.

Canberry [also Ngambri, Kamberri, Caarnberra, Karnberra, Kemberry, Kgemberry, Ngambra, Nganbri, Ngambra, Gnabra, Canberra etc]
The Australian Capital Territory nestles firmly within the ancestral lands of the Ngambri, which includes also some of the surrounding areas.

‘Canberra’ was a corruption of the earlier anglicised version, ‘Canberry’, of the original Aboriginal name for this territory: Ngambri. This name for the district, ‘Canberry’, was proclaimed as such in the Government Gazette, 22 January 1834 and was officially known as such from that time even though it was eventually changed to ‘Canberra’, perhaps to make it sound for ‘European’.

JJ Moore’s ‘ Canberry Station’, now the site of the National Museum of Australia, the Australian National University (ANU) and Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), were built on the Ngambri’s main corroboree ground, much of which is now under the waters of Lake Burley-Griffin. The earliest settlers and travellers referred to the Molonglo river as it Ngambra, Ngambra, Nganbri, Kamberri, Kambury, Kemberry, Kembury, Canberry Creek and later the Limestone River. ‘Canberry Station’ was just one small part of the Ngambri’s extensive ancestral lands at the time the colonists first arrived in Ngambri country in 1821.

The Ngambri and our ancestral country became the capital of a colonial political construct in the early 20th century. When the name of this capital was declared on windy day in 1913, it was no surprise to the well-established local foreign ‘settlers’ that is was to ‘Canberra’.
A mountain of historical evidence overwhelmingly supports the assertion that the ancestral custodial group of this territory at the time the first ‘European settlers’ arrived in 1820-21 took their name from their ancestral country: these were the Ngambri people. The name of the Australian Capital, Canberra, is derived from that of the Ngambri people and their ancestral country.

Happy to discuss
Wuuruguwurrii/Mandaang guwu (thank you)
Paul House (on behalf of Dr Aunty Matilda House – Canberra Citizen of the Year 2006)



We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and custodians of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to the people, the cultures and the Elders past, present and emerging.