First Nations funding to look after Country, create opportunity

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon

Close to $1 million will be provided to 14 First Nations communities in Queensland to look after Country and create new training and job opportunities for Indigenous Australians.

After last year handing back more than 160,000 hectares of land in Cape York to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people, Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon today announced the latest round of the Palaszczuk Government’s Looking after Country grants, supporting projects from the Torres Strait Islands and Agincourt Reef to Magnetic Island, Boulia, Mount Moffat and Emerald.

“First Nations communities have played a central role in caring for environment, culture and heritage on their Country for tens of thousands of years,” Minister Scanlon said.

“This is funding that will go directly to First Nations-led projects on-country that look after the environment, create jobs and lay new pathways to gain meaningful skills and training.

Minister Scanlon said the latest round of funding would see close to 80 jobs created, with new positions for rangers and project managers.

“It’s great to see these projects deliver things like revegetation of native species, critical erosion mitigation on shorelines, and the preservation of thousands of years of cultural heritage.

“Our First Nations communities have equally dealt with the brunt of COVID-19, and this funding will help deliver economic recovery in these communities by creating jobs and skills.

“Australia has an uncomfortable and ugly shared past in this country. Initiatives like this, and like returning land back to Traditional Owners are critical in that path to reconciliation.”

Among the successful applicants was the Wanyurr-Majay Aboriginal Corporation, which will receive nearly $75,000 to undertake the Madjabana Healing Country project.

Wanyurr-Majay Director Jamie Satani said the grant would be a great help to the organisation in its efforts to engage and train Madjaybana land custodians, building their skills in cultural burns and other aspects of caring for ancestral lands and waters.

“The project will support us to continue to train our people and nurture the health of the World Heritage valued beaches and wetlands of Woolanmarroo and Deeral, in the Cairns region,” Mr Satani said.

“It will support both on-ground and planning activities to restore the health of Wanyurr-Majay Country and promote the recovery of original indigenous plants.

“We look forward to getting started on the project, which will enable our Elders, younger aspiring custodians and partner organisations to work together, sharing ecological knowledge of places on Country and working together to preserve its exceptional values for our future generations.”

The other successful 2021-22 grant recipients were:

  • The Kaurareg Native Title Aboriginal Corporation, which will use its grant of $50,500 to mitigate impacts of coastal erosion on vulnerable areas of shoreline and low dunes on Muralug (Prince of Wales) Island in the Torres Strait. This will include erosion management activities and identification, removal of weeds and planting of native species.
  • The Cape Melville, Flinders and Howick Islands Aboriginal Corporation, which will receive $75,000 to employ rangers to undertake baseline cultural and ecological surveys of Manyamarr (Altanmoui Ranges) and hold a culture camp on country to record and share knowledge.
  • The Bromley Aboriginal Corporation, which will use its grant of $74,971 to reintroduce traditional burning practices to their property (on Cape York Peninsula), including planning, accredited training, and monitoring.
  • The Pitta Pitta Aboriginal Corporation, which will use a grant of $63,386 to undertake an archaeological survey and protect known hut sites at Marion Downs Station (west of Boulia) by installing cattle exclusion fencing. The project will include a field day with Elders and partner organisations.
  • The River Nations Indigenous Corporation, based in Bundaberg, which will receive $74,260 to re-instate tree species on an important cultural site with extensive shell middens and scar trees, that holds significant cultural resources such as bush foods, medicine and textiles.
  • The Muluridji Tribal Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC, which will receive $75,000 to implement a weed treatment program to reduce infestations of Amazon Frogbit in the Barron River and prevent the spread of Frogbit into the Mitchell River catchment.
  • The Yambangku Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and Tourism Development Aboriginal Corporation (YACHATDAC), based near Barcaldine, which will receive $74,900 to monitor and maintain cultural sites through cultural knowledge exchange and capacity building between Iningai and Mutitjulu Peoples, archaeologists, an ethnobotanist, and a traditional fire management expert.
  • The Muunthiwarra Aboriginal Corporation, based in Cooktown, which will receive $60,500 to reintroduce traditional burning on the Muunthiwarra Clan Estate. The project will undertake ‘Right-way’ fire, also known as cool mosaic burning, to help to protect cultural heritage sites. The Muunthiwarra Traditional Owners will monitor the wildlife population and native vegetation changes.
  • The Kuuku Ya’u Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC, which will receive $75,000 to undertake weed control including lantana infestation threatening nearby Cape York Peninsula national parks and two beach clean ups with Tangaroa Blue to remove marine debris.
  • The Everick Foundation, which will use a $75,000 grant to support Wulgurukaba Rangers on Yunbenun (Magnetic Island) to employ and train rangers to help weed control, pest animal monitoring, fire management, and walking track maintenance.
  • Western Kangoulu Ltd, which will receive $75,000 to support the Cultural Landscape of Policeman’s Lagoon project on Western Kangoulu Country, in the Emerald region. Policeman’s Lagoon is known through oral histories as a resting place of the Moonda Gudda (Rainbow Serpent). The project will fund archaeological fieldwork which will assist the Western Kangoulu people to better understand and protect the area.
  • The Gunggari Native Title Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC, based in Mitchell, which will receive $74,500 for the Mount Moffatt Cultural Heritage: Site Survey and Management Plan. The primary project outcome will be a rich, centralised repository for Gunggari People’s traditional knowledge of cultural heritage.
  • The Dabu Jajikal Aboriginal Corporation, which will receive $75,000 for a Heritage and Natural Values Survey & Site Management Plan for Agincourt Reef project (off Port Douglas) to undertake cultural heritage and natural values surveys and workshops to produce a Jajikal Heritage Site Management Plan.

The next round of the Looking after Country Grants program is expected to open for applications mid-2022 with further information on the program available at https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/land-sea-grants/

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.