Grants that support First Nations peoples in their work to protect Country are now open, and Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch is encouraging groups to apply for a share in $500,000 worth of funding.
Coinciding with NAIDOC Week, the next round of Looking after Country Grants has now been opened by the Palaszczuk Government.
“This week during NAIDOC Week we are reflecting on working together for a shared future, and looking after the environment and country is part of this,” Ms Enoch said.
“First Nations peoples have been caring for the environment for thousands of generations, and these grants recognise the knowledge and connection that Traditional Owners have with land and sea.
“Grants of up to $75,000 per project are available to successful applicants to support important work in conserving the environment and cultural heritage on country, which can include traditional fire management practices, pest, weed and animal control, cultural heritage mapping and data collection, and development of country management plans.”
The grants program also supports job creation in Indigenous communities.
Thanks to the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to supporting jobs across all sectors, there has been 8200 jobs created in the Cairns region in the past year and unemployment is below 5%.
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the Looking after Country Grants program, previously known as the Land and Sea Grants Program, has been supporting on-the-ground conservation projects for more than a decade.
“The benefits of the program go beyond the main objective of caring for country,” she said.
“This program also provides opportunities for local employment and skills development, partnership development and the sharing of intergenerational knowledge.”
Minister Enoch said a number of past recipients have used their funding to help increase their capacity to care for their country.
“For example, Olkola Aboriginal Corporation and Buda-dji Aboriginal Development Association both now host Indigenous ranger teams funded by the Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea ranger program,” she said.
“They are successfully delivering ongoing cultural heritage and environmental management on their traditional country.”
Olkola Aboriginal Corporation has received a total $218,000 from these grants for various projects, including identifying significant heritage features for conservation, threatened species habitat protection and identifying sacred sites and important species.
Olkola Elder Mike Ross said the funding provided opportunities to employ people and have more people developing their skills by working on country.
“We used the funding to undergo a cultural and knowledge transfer by mapping the Mjoberg Trail, which helped us retrace the steps of our ancestors,” he said.
“There are five rivers that run through Olkola country and we used a grant to conduct a water testing program to establish how pristine the water is.
“We test the water quality three times a year and check the results against a data base and that allows us to learn what type of runoff is influences the quality of water in our rivers.
“These grants have helped re-establish the Olkola people back on country by educating young people that this is their country, and showing them how to care for their country.”
Wuthathi Aboriginal Corporation received $75,000 last financial year to develop and add to a comprehensive Healthy Country Plan for looking after environmentally-significant traditional lands around Shelburne Bay in Cape York.
Wuthathi Aboriginal Corporation director Christabel Warren said their Healthy Country Plan helped lay the foundation to continue land and sea management projects and carry out plans to improve infrastructure.
“The funding from Looking after Country Grants allowed us to hold workshops with Traditional Owners and help develop a comprehensive plan that takes into account the sensitivity of our environment, while also respecting the cultural and physical aspects of land and sea,” Ms Warren said.
“This has allowed us to develop a plan to improve infrastructure in a way that is appropriate for Wuthathi People and that protects the environment.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Councils, Indigenous Corporations, Traditional Owner groups, and organisations applying on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants, are eligible to apply.
Applications close on Friday 9 August 2019 at 5pm.