Article for The National Tribune
Australian First Nations hold native title rights and interests on over 40 per cent of Australia’s land and waters, with holdings continuing to grow.
The National Native Title Council (NNTC) collaborated with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO to identify and unite with local Indigenous landowners, seeking to understand their country better to create stronger economic opportunities.
Supported by the Australian Government’s National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), this joint project tested pathways for co-developing the scientific base, First Nation’s knowledge, and business opportunity information needed to attract new investment.
In doing this, the project showcased development-focused partnerships that span First Nation corporations, research institutions, industry sector expertise, and government enablement.
Says Gundjitmara Djabwurrung man and NNTC CEO Jamie Lowe: “Grounded in local collaborations in North Queensland and Western Australia, this partnership built a foundation of case study examples, developing ‘how to’ information to support First Nation on-country development elsewhere.
“Through supporting the strategic growth and development of local Indigenous corporations and their investment opportunities, the project supports the strengthening of Native Title holders and Indigenous landowners across Australia,” he continues.
The work highlights the potential contribution that Indigenous ownership of country can make towards future sustainability and economic prosperity, achieved via strategic growth and development of local corporations and investment opportunities.
CSIRO Researcher Dr Taryn Kong says: “Indigenous people need accurate and independent information about future sustainable uses of their country. Combining knowledges enables new investment and community benefits.”
The team, led by CSIRO, worked with local Indigenous collaborators at three strategic locations in Northern Australia, to develop prospectuses of key opportunities for future investment. The locations included:
- Tourism and environmental management at Talaroo Nature Refuge, an Indigenous Protected Area in North Queensland, owned by the Ewamian people
- Pastoralism and environmental management at Peedamulla Station in Western Australia, leased by Jundaru Aboriginal Corporation and co-managed with Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation
- Tourism opportunities on the traditional lands of the Western Yalanji people of North Queensland who are represented by the Western Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation.
CSIRO’s Marcus Barber says: “The team also produced a ‘How to Guide’ providing key lessons and pathways for other Indigenous groups looking to develop opportunities on their own country. The project was enabled by substantial investment from CSIRO and the Australian Government through the National Indigenous Australians Agency.”
Continues Mr Lowe: “Through bringing together scientific and traditional knowledge, this partnership demonstrates what Indigenous ownership of country can bring to future sustainability and the nation’s prosperity, adding vital prospects to the health of the Australian environment and economy.
NNTC acknowledges this project further establishes CSIRO’s role as an integration science expert and trusted advisor in sustainable and realistic on-country Indigenous development.”
All reports available at Developing Indigenous land and water enterprise opportunities in northern Australia – CSIRO