WANTOK 2013 Celebrates the Election of New National Governing Bodies for Australian South Sea Islanders.

Please download the WANTOK 2013 Programme and Election Document. This document outlines the structure of governance and management; the secretariat responsibilities; the nomination process; and attempts to lay the basis for the development of three separate functional bodies each of which will aid in the development and proliferation of multiple local associations of Australian South-Sea Islanders (ASSI) and which will contribute to the development of a collective national presence. The document also contains the entire WANTOK 2013 3-day program leading up to the WANTOK National Body Election.

Download WANTIK programme

Emelda Davis, President of the interim national body for the Australian South Sea Islanders announces: “The WANTOK 2013 Australian South Sea Islanders forum marks an historic moment in the history of Australian South Sea Islanders and their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. It is an occasion when Australian South Sea Islanders from all around Australia will gather to elect their first national governing bodies.” The forum will be hosted at the Queensland State Library from the 1st-3rd November 2013.

“The Forum, through a democratically elected process, will deliver for the first time in Australian history, a permanent National ASSI secretariat and secretariat board of directors to represent the interests of Australian South Sea Islanders. An ethics council will also be elected to provide advice and guidance concerning matters of ethics and culture to support and advise the secretariat board of directors.”

“The new structure will give our people the necessary authority to deal with important ASSI matters that have remained largely invisible to the political processes that direct government policy. Tens of thousands of people in our communities have been disadvantaged through the impact of the slave-like conditions that were imposed on their forebears who were brought to this country to work as indentured laborers in the sugar and cotton plantations of the mid 19th century.”

“Today there are issues of educational, social and economic disadvantage to address amongst our people. We also need assistance to strengthen our culture and connect back to our families in the Pacific.”

“The delivery of the structure of the governing bodies has been several years in the making, undertaken by the Interim National ASSI (Port Jackson) Body, who were given this mandate at the last WANTOK conference.”

“The Forum will be opened by our Patron Bonita Mabo with speeches given by Pastor Ray Minniecon, Vanuatu Minister Ralph Regenvanu, Dr. Francis Bobongie, Professor Graceland Smallwood, Paramount Chief Duane Anlilinpel Aptvanu Vickery the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Professor Clive Moore, Professor Doug Hunt and Professor Steve Mullins. Traditional Island entertainers include, singer Elder Shireen Malamoo, the Solomon Island Dancers, Tanna island Dancers and the Indigo Ukulele Group. Importantly, the delegates will be able to examine a specially presented exhibition of archival materials from the Queensland Library.”

Because the majority of ASSI associations and organisations are currently unfunded, the initial structures and roles that are described in the election document will be voluntary. It is hoped however, that these structures will give rise a political presence that can attain wider support, including Government funding, that will culminate in permanent organisations that will secure the culture, presence and future of ASSI who have a unique history and heritage and who make a distinctive contribution to the rich tapestry of Australian cultures. While making these claims it must also be acknowledged that with the passage of many generations the descendants of our people have also acquired European, Asian and/or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander forebears.