Sharing stories with the world to strengthen connection to country

A Rainforest Aboriginal Grant last year allowed Traditional Owners from the Gulngay and Jirrbal Rainforest Aboriginal Tribal Groups to share their stories about the Tully River at the 2019 World Rafting Championships last May.

Whitney Rassip, Girringun Indigenous Protected Areas Coordinator, said the grant created an opportunity to share important stories for the region with the world. Ms Rassip was part of the management team for the project.

“It was a very successful project, the fact that the world came to Tully last year and we could support the Traditional Owners and their connection to the Tully River and promote that to the world, was quite an achievement for us,” she said.

“The grant was a good start to help gain leverage for other funding, including corporate sponsorship, which is what we did.”

The Authority’s Rainforest Aboriginal Grants program is again open for submissions until 29 May.

Sonya Takua, who was employed as the Indigenous engagement officer at the event last year, through the grant, said a key story was shared due to the grant. “This grant really gave us the opportunity to share the story of the Tully River by telling the Water Story, and that resonated really well with the competitors from all around the world.”

More than 300 athletes attended the event from 49 countries. The grant not only enabled Traditional Owner involvement in the event but assisted in the creation of the Galu Traditional Owner Working Group, event specific products such as t-shirts and caps, a guided bushwalk with a Traditional Owner and market stalls throughout the event.

“Telling the story really gave the message of how we feel about the environment as the custodians of these beautiful places, and we want people to respect it and share in that fantastic environment,” Ms Takua said. “These were all non-Indigenous people and when they raft on the river but have no connection, they say ‘wow this is a beautiful place’, but when you put meaning to it through a creation story like the water story of how it came to be, that moves people and that’s what Indigenous culture has been doing for a very long time.”

The water story included three main characters of the Water Story, Banggarra (blue tongue lizard), Galu (rainforest rat) and Gijilordi (the kingfisher), which was subsequently shared internationally over social media. “Maybe people will start thinking that we have to listen to Indigenous people who have been looking after country for thousands and thousands of years, because if we don’t we’re not going to have a future,” Sonya said.

“People need to find that connection with nature, and that connection is through Indigenous people and their stories and you can see how wonderful nature is when you can see it through an Aboriginal person’s eyes.”

The Rainforest Aboriginal Grants program are now seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples and their organisations. This round of Rainforest Aboriginal Grants will be focused on projects that partner with Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples and their organisations to support positive well-being and livelihood outcomes within the World Heritage Area.

All images and the “Galu story” are copyright of the Galu Traditional Owner Working Group.

What’s available?

Funding and support from $5,000 - $10,000 (GST exclusive).

Who can apply?

Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples and their organisations who are doing work in cultural or natural resource management including; Ranger groups, Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBC), Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate (RNTBC) and private Indigenous owned enterprise with a focus on working on country.

Applications can be submitted by individuals or groups with evidence of support from the Traditional Owner group or PBC/RNTBC of the area is required.

What projects will the Authority fund?

The Authority will fund projects to support positive well-being and livelihood outcomes for Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples in the World Heritage Area. Some examples include;

  • Fire management projects for cultural and/or ecological conservation
  • Protection, presentation and monitoring of cultural sites
  • Building and maintaining walking tracks
  • Research and recording of traditional ecological knowledge
  • Cultural education and training
  • Community and cultural development
  • Planning to support management of country and sustainable livelihood development

Closing date for applications is COB Friday 29 May 2020

For more information, please contact

Sharing stories with the world to strengthen connection to country

Published: 20th May 2020

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