ACT Natural Resource Management (NRM) supports the delivery of a number of engagement initiatives to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. These include projects that support Aboriginal people to work on Country, better educational and leadership outcomes for young people, help lessen the impacts of the justice system on the community, better physical and mental health outcomes; and facilitates sharing of Traditional Custodians cultural knowledge.
To achieve these outcomes, ACT NRM employs an Aboriginal NRM Facilitator to assist engagement and consultation, and build capacity within the community to deliver projects on the ground.
The Aboriginal NRM Facilitator engages the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community on a wide range of environmental and cultural programs that are also supported by governments, and NRM and Indigenous organisations. The Aboriginal NRM Facilitator works closely with Traditional Custodians and the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to ensure their advice is incorporated and reflected in government initiatives.
Aboriginal NRM Facilitator priorities have been identified as:
- engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth and preparing them for advisory and leadership roles
- developing cultural heritage programs to assist with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people healing and rehabilitation
- supporting the development of cultural tourism
- conserving Country and applying Aboriginal land management
- helping protect Traditional Custodians cultural land and water rights
- supporting employment programs working on Country.
Aboriginal NRM programs works with Traditional Custodians, ACT Heritage and ACT Parks and Conservation Service to continually improve management and protection of Country and cultural sites. Aboriginal NRM programs help with identifying and supplying specialised training, creating partnerships, support staff and programs with advice and communication, workshop new and innovative methods and being an advocate for Traditional Custodians expressing their views.
- support ACT Parks and Conservation Service’s Murumbung Rangers to deliver cultural initiatives on Country
- facilitate Aboriginal Waterways Assessments to identify and protect culturally significant areas and be recognized in the ACT Water Resource Plan
- support Representative Aboriginal Organisations views in Conservation Management Plans under the ACT Heritage Act 2004
- identifying new and improved equipment to identify and record Aboriginal heritage sites
- support non-government organisations such as Greening Australia, catchment groups and Landcare in protecting culturally significant areas and help engage Traditional Custodians
- development of the Ngunnawal Plant Use guide in conjunction with the Ngunnawal community, ACT Parks and Conservation Service and Greening Australia.
A large portion of feedback from the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is concerns about relating to mental and physical health, high rates of incarceration to adults and youth, youth suicide, loss of cultural identity with the youth and drug and alcohol abuse. In late 2016, 119 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the ACT region responded to a survey focusing on cultural heritage programs. Respondents were asked to prioritise 6 suggested focus areas in order from highest priority to the lowest. The highest priority at 27% identified was Using cultural programs to help address health and justice issues and reconnect to culture and the second highest at 24% was Recording cultural knowledge to share with the next generation.
ACT NRM’s Aboriginal NRM programs has listened to the community’s concerns by developing cultural and environmental programs where the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community can participate and reconnect in a culturally safe environment.
- engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees through the Culture and Land Management (CALM) program at the Alexander Machonocie Centre.
- Kickstart My Career through Culture a program aimed at disengaged students in ACT schools.
- Future Leaders, Future Leaders program helping young Traditional Custodians build skills in environment, governance and leadership.
- cultural programs with community groups like men’s and women’s groups.
ACT NRM is committed to supporting local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people developing their own enterprises cultural tourism. Ecotourism and cultural tourism are starting to evolve as the ACT is gaining a larger tourism profile. Aboriginal NRM programs support these businesses by helping them with advice and identify relevant training, partnerships, mentors, resources and opportunities.
- ongoing support to Aboriginal owned businesses Thunderstone Aboriginal Cultural & Land Management Services, Culture on the Move and Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.
- ongoing support to the Mulanggang Traditional Aboriginal Landcare Group.