Some of the long-running funding programs that support the important role of looking after country are listed here:
The Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program is a state specific program to care for country. Indigenous communities partner with the Queensland Government to care for land and sea country, provide jobs and training and engage future generations. The program employs, trains, and supports Indigenous land and sea ranger teams for conservation work and provides community activity guidelines across 24 regional and remote communities.
Queensland Indigenous rangers speak about the importance of the program in this video.
The Indigenous Rangers Program (formerly ‘Working on Country’) draws on the traditional knowledge and skills of Indigenous rangers and is funded by NIAA. It provides opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to care for country and protect and sustain the natural resources and cultural values of their country. It has also helped create meaningful livelihoods and developed the capacity of Indigenous organisations to manage their country. In early 2020 the funding for the Indigenous Rangers Program was extended. The NIAA interactive map shows ranger projects that are funded under this scheme and provides a short summary.
National Land Care Programs (NLP) support Indigenous people and organisations to participate in the delivery of Natural Resource Management (NRM). NLP produced guidelines on how to participate.
Land and sea management opportunities within the native title process
In the native title context, evidence of land and sea resource use and management is important to demonstrate the contemporary exercise of traditional laws and customs and a continuing connection to country.
A whole of country planning process can help with demonstrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural values in land and sea resource use and management while preparing for and working through the usual native title processes. For example, see the Gurnaikurnai and the Dja Dja Wurrung country plans. There are more examples below.
Country planning can assist in the establishment of a PBC by creating opportunities for families to meet and discuss their shared aspirations and identify their goals, priorities and vision for the future of their PBC This way a PBC can be established in a way that will meet the community’s expectations.
Country planning work can also provide the information base and understanding required for productive native title settlement negotiations. It can inform the content of ILUAs with government and other interest holders that set out how native title rights may be exercised on country after a determination.
Planning at the early stages of the native title process helps identify the resources that will be necessary to achieve the PBC’s goals. This may include collaboration and partnerships with other organisations and communities that will enable the PBC to establish a ranger program or manage an IPA. This planning can also provide the foundation for the development of joint management plans over national parks and reserves.
There are numerous examples around Australia where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have built on the recognition of their rights under land rights claims and native title claims. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have established and built land and sea management arrangements to care for country and culture in more effective and comprehensive ways that provide meaningful livelihoods and significant social and economic benefits for their communities.
Written by Austin Sweeney, consultant native title lawyer (updated 10.10.2020).
The Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC administers land on behalf of the Balanggarra People. Balanggarra people’s Country is over approximately 26,025 square kilometres of land and sea in the northern Kimberley region of Western Australia. Trisha Birch Chairperson of the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation speaks about the various programs the rangers and IPA cover.