Department of the Environment and Water Resources, 2007
Supervising Scientist Division environmental performance
Consultation with the Aboriginal community in the ARR
One of Supervising Scientist Division’s (SSD) primary responsibility’s is ensuring supervisory and research activities undertaken in the Alligator Rivers Region are effectively communicated to Traditional Aboriginal Owners and other local Aboriginal people.
During 2005-06, SSD focused on strengthening stakeholder relations by improving communication about its research and monitoring activities in the Region. Examples include increasing local Aboriginal employment and involvement in a broad range of projects, guided tours of the SSD research facilities for Traditional Aboriginal Owners, and more intensive direct consultation with landowners.
An example of consultation with Traditional Aboriginal Owners in the Alligator Rivers Region
Traditional Aboriginal Owners and local Aboriginal people have been actively involved in SSD’s research and monitoring programme during the year by supporting field activities such as creekside monitoring, water quality monitoring associated with Ranger mine, collection of mussels and fish for laboratory analysis, sampling of macroinvertebrates, and general field station activities. Indigenous employment has provided the opportunity for SSD staff to work alongside landowners in their country, sharing knowledge and gaining greater insight into traditional cultural values. It also gave Indigenous people opportunities to gain first-hand knowledge, valuable technical skills, and an understanding of the research and monitoring programme.
Protocols, in line with legislation and other relevant frameworks, are in place to ensure SSD reports annually to Kakadu National Park, the Northern Land Council, Kakadu Board of Management and Traditional Aboriginal Owners on current and proposed research to be conducted in Kakadu National Park.
SSD provides cross-cultural awareness training for staff once or twice a year-23 staff attended in 2005-06 at a cost of $1500 to SSD. Local Aboriginal Traditional Owners provided the training.
During 2005-06, SSD appointed a Kakadu Traditional Owner to the newly created post of ‘Communications and Monitoring Support Officer’ based at the Jabiru Field Station to focus on communicating SSD’s work in Indigenous language. SSD also employed two full-time Aboriginal trainees in the Business Support Unit in Darwin.
In 2005-06, part-time employment of Kakadu Aboriginal people was twice the previous year’s figure with a significant increase in the range of projects in which they were involved.
SSD hosted displays and answered questions about research and monitoring activities at two cultural events in the Region (the open day associated with the Gunbalanya community in Arnhem Land and the Mahbilil Festival in Jabiru). One of the most popular displays involved interactive macroinvertebrate sorting and identification (a tool to explain how macroinvertebrates are used to determine waterway health in the Alligator Rivers Region). The events attracted a wide audience of local people and interstate and overseas tourists.
This increased involvement of local Aboriginal people and exposure to a broader range of SSD activities-some of which are described above-help ensure the ARR community is better informed and can feel more confident that the land they live on and the food they source from it is being protected from the effects of uranium mining.