Taking Australia’s Indigenous heritage to the world

28 April 2017

Australia is committed to actively engaging on indigenous issues on the international stage. We believe the sharing of experience, knowledge, expertise and best practice is invaluable in the ongoing effort to achieve better outcomes for indigenous peoples globally.

Former Ambassador to Denmark, Damien Miller, has been using his status as Australia’s first Indigenous Ambassador to promote Australia’s Indigenous heritage and achievements in the Nordic region.  He has travelled numerous times to Greenland and Norway to strengthen ties with Indigenous communities.

In November 2016, Mr Miller travelled to Greenland to help open and speak at a forum developed by Deakin University, Greenland University and supported by Australia.  The “Was.Is.Always” workshop brought together Australian and Greenlandic Indigenous artists, academics and government officials to discuss the commercial use and protection of traditional designs.  It also focused on the creation of an International Indigenous Design Charter, based on the Australian Indigenous Design Charter.  The Charters aim to guide designers, artists and others who wish to use Indigenous patterns, designs and materials in a respectful manner. 

Miller and Qujaukitsoq standing in front of a window, holding souvenirs
Mr Miller with the Greenlandic Minister for Industry, Labour, Trade, Energy and Foreign Affairs Mr. Vittus Qujaukitsoq when he visited Greenland in November 2016.

In 2015, Mr Miller supported efforts by Deakin University, the University of Copenhagen and the University of Greenland to create a university exchange agreement for Indigenous students.  In late 2016, the first Greenlandic student arrived in Melbourne and two Deakin students arrived in Copenhagen. 

In December 2014, Mr Miller travelled to Karasjok, the seat of the Norwegian Sami Parliament to connect with Sami leaders and share perspectives on Indigenous issues.  He was warmly welcomed by the President of the Parliament, the Speaker of the Plenary Assembly and members of the Executive Council.  Mr Miller used the visit to highlight Closing the Gap and Reconciliation initiatives as well as constitutional recognition efforts. He also gave a television interview to NRKSapmi, the Indigenous Division of the Norwegian Broadcasting Service, about the Australian Indigenous experience, broadcast nationally in Denmark.

The contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to modern Australian society is an enormous part of what makes our country and who we are. The Australian Government is committed to better engagement with its Indigenous peoples to ensure policies and programmes improve their lives and opportunities across country. Globally, Australia continues to be a strong advocate for the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples around the world in international matters which affect them.

MIller and leaders sitting around a camp fire
Mr Miller connects with Sami leaders and shares perspectives on Indigenous issues, Norwegian Sami Parliament, December 2014.

Damien Miller is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and was Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Germany. He has previously served in the Australian High Commission in Malaysia.

Mr Miller holds a Graduate Diploma in Foreign Affairs and Trade from Monash University and a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the University of New South Wales. He was selected “Aboriginal Scholar of the Year” by the National NAIDOC Committee in 1993.

Ambassador Miller is the first Indigenous Australian appointed as a Head of Mission overseas.

Last Updated: 28 April 2017