Following last year’s floods, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is delivering up to $10 million to help Aboriginal communities restore culturally significant land as part of a new Aboriginal Lands Flood Recovery program.
The program will be in partnership with NSW Public Works and support flood-impacted Aboriginal communities to assess and manage the clean-up of waste generated by the 2022 floods on Aboriginal Lands.
NSW EPA Chief Executive Officer Tony Chappel said over the next two years the program will ensure Aboriginal lands are cleaned up appropriately to avoid legacy issues with flood waste on their lands.
“We have seen previously that funding programs have needed more flexibility and collaboration to support Aboriginal communities in dealing with the type of damage that can occur following a natural disaster,” Mr Chappel said.
“The damage to community land and the environment over the past year has been extensive and we recognise the entire NSW landscape has spiritual and cultural significance to all Aboriginal people.”
The program will partner with Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) and Aboriginal community land managers through an expression of interest to provide support in assessing the scope and respectfully restoring areas.
The program commences with a consultation phase with LALCs that runs through to May 2023, following this the EPA and Public Works will identify and scope flood clean-up needs, with on-ground works to commence shortly after.
Mr Chappel said the program will include clean-up and/or removal of waste at flood-damaged sites such as cultural centres and sheds, and restoration of fences and areas of natural environment.
“It is critically important that we recognise the cultural significance that these areas hold to Aboriginal communities and ensure this is protected and preserved during the clean-up and restoration phase of the program.
“An important part of this program, where possible, is engaging local Aboriginal contractors to increase employment opportunities and embed consistent and meaningful understanding across the wider community.
“Unfortunately, last year’s floods probably won’t be the last natural disaster to impact communities in NSW but I hope this program becomes a recognised part of all government efforts to restore Aboriginal land.
“Recognising community needs and culture is something that must always be at the forefront of any recovery effort.”
This program is co-funded through the joint Commonwealth and NSW Government Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement. For more details on the program please visit here.