This week has been NAIDOC Week in Australia, an opportunity for us all to come together and celebrate the rich history, diverse cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – the oldest continuing cultures on the planet.
This year’s NAIDOC theme is ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!’
Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! means seeking proper environmental, cultural and heritage protections, constitutional change, a comprehensive process of truth-telling, working towards treaties, and calling out racism – we must do it together.
It is also a call to protect our precious lands, waters, wildlife, sacred sites and cultural heritage.
AWC is committed to developing strong, mutually beneficial and respectful relationships with traditional owners and rangers. These strong partnerships are built on a shared set of values, including caring for land and wildlife, supporting the community and respect for traditional knowledge and practices.
Mutual exchange of Indigenous knowledge and ecological understanding, and traditional and modern practices for conservation is extremely important.
From Central Australia to the Kimberley, Wet Tropics and beyond, together, we aim to narrow the gap between aspiration and reality, good intent and outcomes.
The return of Ninu to central Australia
The spinifex sandplains of Central Australia were recently the historic scene for students from Nyirripi School to welcome the return of Ninu, the Greater Bilby, to the traditional lands of the Ngalia-Warlpiri and Luritja people at Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary.
As the sun was sliding down the sand dunes, students ranging from pre-school to year nine burst from their bus eager to learn about the new arrivals and help with their release.
Known to local Warlpiri People as Ninu, the Greater Bilby is culturally significant to Indigenous people in Central Australia and is an important ecosystem engineer, facilitating ecosystem processes through burrowing and digging for food.
While the Bilbies, who made the long journey from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, NSW, were prepared for their new home, a sunset story-time session was held for the fascinated students. AWC’s Newhaven Sanctuary Manager, Henry Brink was delighted to host the Warlpiri students and community for the Bilby release.
“We love having the students and community with us,” Brink said. “It is a wonderful learning opportunity for all of us as we share knowledge with each other and experience the joy of witnessing the return of native species to our beautiful arid land.”
Partners in the future of conservation
Indigenous managed lands and protected areas are vital for the conservation of Australia’s unique biodiversity. Earlier this year traditional owners, the Central Land Council (CLC) and AWC signed an agreement to collaboratively promote the conservation of the unique cultural and ecological values of Ngalurrtju Aboriginal Land Trust in the Northern Territory.
The first activity under the Ngalurrtju partnership was an on-country launch ceremony to celebrate the finalisation of the Lease Agreement for Ngalurrtju Aboriginal Land Trust. About 30 Custodians representing all four estate groups together with staff from AWC and the CLC gathered at the foot of Karinyarra (Central Mt Wedge) to initiate the project. The atmosphere was overwhelmingly positive about working together to protect country and culture at Ngalurrtju Aboriginal Land Trust.
A supporter event was then held in Melbourne, celebrating the commencement of the Ngalurrtju partnership. Four Ngalurrtju Aboriginal Land Trust Custodians attended the event, held at Arts Centre Melbourne which houses a permanent exhibition of traditional art from Central Australia. Addressing the crowd, senior Custodian Terence Abbott explained how happy he and his People are to be working with AWC to look after their country. All four Custodians said they were immensely proud to be able to represent their People at the event and showcase the art of their forebears.
The next step is to establish a management committee involving traditional owners, the CLC and AWC to guide work programs and land management activities at Ngalurrtju Aboriginal Land Trust. The committee, to comprise of senior Custodians and representatives of the CLC and AWC, will provide advice and guidance to staff and approve annual work plans. In the meantime, AWC is facilitating regular on-country visits with senior Custodians and their families to build relationships and discuss opportunities for the future.
Protecting the Wenlock River
The Wenlock Catchment Management Group (WCMG) is a community organisation made up of traditional owners, community, land managers and businesses from the Wenlock River catchment, Cape York, established in 2012 as ‘the voice of the river’.
The iconic Wenlock River rises in Northern Kaanju Country from headwaters located in the Great Dividing Range in eastern Cape York. It moves towards the north-west through Atambaya, Yinwum, Luthig, Mpakwath, Thaynhakwith and Taeppathiggi Country then Tjungundji Country and emptying into Port Musgrave, near Mapoon, in north-western Cape York.
Earlier this year the WCMG launched their Healthy Country Plan for the Wenlock River. This plan is different to some other Healthy Country Plans because it exists across the country of eight clan groups, aiming to complement existing works that can support the coordination of catch-wide projects.
Sally and Graham, managers of AWC’s Piccaninny Plains Wildlife Sanctuary have worked with the WCMG since 2013. Sally has served as Chair and is presently Secretary on the Executive Committee. Both Sally and Graham have been active in the development of the Healthy Country Plan.
Indigenous partnerships are vital to the future of conservation
AWC is committed to developing strong Indigenous partnerships that are built on a shared set of values, including caring for land and wildlife, supporting the community and respect for traditional knowledge and practices.
Thank you for your support, and for joining with AWC to celebrate Indigenous partners across Australia.