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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

5 July 1999


Traditional indigenous knowledge and contemporary land management practices are working side-by-side to help sustainably manage Australia's unique landscape and biodiversity.

Dr Sharman Stone MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, today launched the Federal Government's NAIDOC week environmental celebrations, a week-long festival of events and activities promoting indigenous involvement in environmental and cultural heritage management.

"The unique traditional knowledge that indigenous peoples possess about Australia's flora, fauna, lands and seas, is an important part of the Federal Government's environment and cultural heritage management strategy," Dr Stone said.

"NAIDOC week is a great opportunity to celebrate this knowledge as well as exploring new ways to incorporate indigenous land management strategies into mainstream environmental policies."

Around 16% of Australia is owned and managed by indigenous peoples.

Dr Stone said that the Federal Government had an active natural resource management partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

"Through the Indigenous Protected Areas Program, part of the Natural Heritage Trust, the Federal Government is working together indigenous communities to preserve and protect traditional lands, waters and cultural biodiversity."

"IPA management plans are helping indigenous communities live in harmony with the land through a working partnership of customary and contemporary management practices."

An Indigenous Protected Area is an area of land or seas specially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biodiversity and associated cultural values, using guidelines established by the International Union for Conservation.

Nantawarrina, an Aboriginal owned property in the Northern Flinders Ranges, was declared as the first IPA in August 1998.

IPA's are also in the process of being declared in Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Funding of $1.8 million per annum is available through the Natural Heritage Trust to develop and manage Indigenous Protected Areas.

In addition to IPA funding, the Federal Government's Natural Heritage Trust also provides funding for indigenous conservation projects. In 1998-99 $3,585,920 million is being ploughed into indigenous Bushcare, Landcare, Rivercare and Endangered Species projects around the country.

Dr Stone said the Federal Government was also committed to helping indigenous communities overcome the geographical, social and cultural barriers that often restricted access to traditional federal funding and conservation programs.

"As part of the Natural Heritage Trust, the Federal Government has established a network of Indigenous Land Management Facilitators."

"Their role is to act as a link between indigenous groups and government agencies to inform, assist and advise on all aspects of sustainable land management and the different types of funding and support available through the Natural Heritage Trust," Sharman Stone said.

Through Environment Australia, the Federal Government also pursues a pro-active policy of integrating traditional, customary land management within mainstream environmental management practices.

"In particular, the Aboriginal Recruitment Training and Career Development Strategy is helping to recruit, train and employ local indigenous land managers in botanical gardens and national parks."

Over 30% of managers employed in mainland parks are indigenous employees.

Dr Stone said that events like NAIDOC week were also helping to strengthen the Reconciliation process by recognising practical examples of working partnerships between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

"I'm particularly proud of the way in which the Federal Government's has tailored as range of environmental and cultural heritage policies to assist indigenous communities sustainably manage and protect Australia's unique natural resources."

For further information please contact:
Nicole Johnston, Assistant Adviser, 02 6277 2016

Commonwealth of Australia