Protecting Country and Culture
Traditional Owners have a wealth of knowledge and experience of land and natural resource management that can benefit private land owners and government organisations as well as Indigenous communities across the country. Programs such as ‘Working on Country’ is a natural extension of native title in an area of primary interest for Traditional Owners and enables them to practice a broad suite of the rights recognised by the courts. Traditional Owners work to protect important environmental and cultural values on behalf of all Australians by caring for their country and playing an active role in natural resource management.
Protecting country and culture is a fundamental right of Traditional Owners across Australia and why it is a fundamental pillar for the NNTC agenda over the next two years. Initiatives will include activities around the following areas:
- Promotion of cultural and social development, in particular the protection of land rights
- Promoting best practice in cultural heritage
- Protection of native title rights and interests
- Promoting meaningful consultation
- Seeking the introduction of a new model of managing native title funds – ICDC
- Promoting the expansion of the IPA and Ranger program
- Promoting the achievements of NTRB/SPs over the years
As noted in the Northern Development White Paper, land is of fundamental importance to Indigenous Australians for cultural and social as well as economic purposes. The government is determined that native title holders and Indigenous business should have the same opportunities as other Australians in leveraging their land assets and would like to create a native title regime that has a greater focus on economic opportunity for Indigenous Australians.
Native Title holders also wish to leverage economically from their land assets, however they also wish to undertake activities that will protect country and culture for the benefit of future generations. Programs such as the IPA and Ranger program need to be expanded to ensure Traditional Owners and their communities can pursue their aspirations for caring for country and maintaining cultural practices through such programs.
The Deloittes Review found that the system must provide scope for native title organisations to develop their capacity and to play an important role empowering Indigenous communities to pursue opportunities linked to native title, including income and employment-generating activities in areas such as culture, heritage and land management and other enterprises.