Rainforest Aboriginal partnerships

This year the Wet Tropics Management Authority has prioritised a refreshed, supported and collaborative approach to Rainforest Aboriginal engagement. The Authority and Terrain Natural Resource Management (Terrain) committed to a closer working relationship early in 2016. This has allowed both organisations to align their skills and resources to provide better support for Rainforest Aboriginal engagement.


Key focus areas include maximising opportunities in World Heritage and cultural recognition, planning for economic advancement, sponsoring learning and networking between Rainforest Aboriginal people, and telling the story through culturally appropriate communications.

Board Director and Kuku Yalanji woman, Leah Talbot, championed the effort to refresh the Rainforest Aboriginal News (RAN). The first refreshed edition was published in October 2016 and provided an update from the Authority and Terrain boards, partnership success stories and information about what’s been happening and what’s coming up in the Wet Tropics. Check out the October 2016 edition of the Rainforest Aboriginal News. The next edition will be released in January 2017.

The Authority and Terrain supported a Rainforest Aboriginal peoples field day at Babinda in October. Hosted by Jaragun Pty Ltd, this was the first of its kind, where Indigenous environmental project leaders came together from around the region to share knowledge and practical field experience about riparian revegetation at the local scale. A highlight for participants was sharing experience about how to develop and nurture partnerships with local landholders, government, and non-government organisations to deliver mutual benefit.       

In October the Authority facilitated an Aboriginal Tourism Showcase on the Atherton Tableland. The Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Partnerships (DATSIP) as well as other industry representatives attended to experience a number of established Aboriginal tourism products and to provide feedback to a number of emerging Aboriginal tourism enterprises. Industry representatives shared their experiences on how to successfully  nurture these products and establish the conditions and support necessary for them to grow further. The Authority will continue to work with DATSIP and industry representatives to support the  development of local Aboriginal tourism enterprises to present World Heritage values into the future.

The first Indigenous Ranger Workshop for the Wet Tropics region was held at Clump Mountain (Djiru country) in November. The three-day event was hosted by Girringun Aboriginal Corporation with support from the Authority and Terrain. Forty-five people participated in the workshop including five established Wet Tropics ranger groups: Gunggandji, Dawul Wuru, Djunbunji, Girringun and Jabalbina. The rangers and other special guests shared knowledge and experience across a suite of issues and reported real practical value from the group discussions and presentations. There was clear support from the attending ranger groups for the continuation of a Wet Tropics Indigenous Ranger network and ongoing workshops and opportunities.

From 24-27 November the Authority also supported two Rainforest Aboriginal people from Girringun Aboriginal Corporation and two Western Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation staff to attend the Australian Tropical Herbarium’s rainforest plant identification course held in Paluma. Participants valued the opportunity to further support traditional knowledge with scientific plant classification and online plant identification resources.

An exciting new product hot off the press is the 2017 ‘People Country Culture’ calendar, which celebrates and raises awareness of the important and ongoing role of Rainforest Aboriginal people in the Wet Tropics cultural landscape. The calendar has been a collaborative initiative of Rainforest Aboriginal people and their organisations, the Authority and Terrain. 11 Rainforest Aboriginal groups have shared insights into their custodial responsibilities for country and some of the contemporary ways traditional knowledge and practice are applied to advance the management of natural and cultural assets within the Wet Tropics. Please contact the Authority if you would like a copy.

Rainforest Aboriginal partnerships

Published: 20th Dec 2016

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