With the aim of bringing together community land and sea managers to share stories and determine future direction, the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation hosted the 2nd National Indigenous Land and Sea Management Conference in Cardwell North Queensland, in early October 2007.
The Conference Adresses Five Main Issues:
Growing The Alliance
As plenary speaker, Peter Yu of NAILSMA (North Australian Indigenous Land Sea Management Alliance) discussed the Alliance’s foundation and its role in assisting the capacity of and the challenges facing Indigenous people to live and work on their country. He said:
“For most of my time working amongst the communities in the Kimberley and more recently as Chair of NAILSMA the majority of people in communities have just wanted to get on with life, meaning they want to be on their country and wanting to be doing something meaningful that combines respecting and fulfilling their cultural obligations and doing soemthing productive on their traditional lands.
On most occasions people say …we don’t mind people coming onto our land and using some of it, if they want, all we want is their understanding and respect for my culture and my country and we have a fair deal about what happens on our land…
A serious investment in the capacity of Indigenous people to live on their country as recognition of traditional ownership and as partners of northern development ofg land and natural resources management should be a fundamantal plank in a new relationship.
The Australian Government – whichever party forms it – should immediately engage with key representative groups to make a comprehensive policy for sustainable development in northern Australia as a matter of national priority.
As part of that policy commitment a public policy institution should be established in northern Australia in partnership with Indigenous people and other stakeholders so that a sustainable cultural land and sea management industry plan can be developed and implemented.
Such a plan can link the established industries of pastoralism, mining and fishing with the new, emerging and expanding industries of horticulture, tourism, land management, the carbon economy, Indigenous knowledge and artistic expressions and offer a sound vision for sustainable development of northern Australia for generations to come…
I believe this will be good for us as the ‘First People’ and will be overall beneficial for the Australian community.”
For Traditional Owners in the wet/dry tropics there are many common issues, problems and circumstances which include:
In 2000, the Kimberley Land Council, Northern Land Council and Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation became core partners of the Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Savannas Management (TS–CRC) for the period from 2001–2002 to 2007–2008.
These groups also agreed to investigate forming an alliance of Indigenous land councils and land management agencies across north Australia to work on getting better land and sea management results for Indigenous people.
In early 2003, Joe Morrison began as the Executive Officer of NAILSMA, which is located within the CRC headquarters, based at the Charles Darwin University in Darwin. Since this time, the alliance has grown to operate several projects across the north.
The membership of the alliance is growing to include other relevant Indigenous organisations that are interested in caring for country.