Landcare on the North Coast is embarking on a first for the state, with the appointment of the first Aboriginal Landcare Officer in their network.
The new Aboriginal Landcare Officer position will provide support to Aboriginal groups, North Coast Landcare networks and Landcare groups to co-design collaborative activities that build capacity and partnerships – with a particular focus on projects that can assist with bushfire habitat recovery.
Funding from the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants program will support the position and strengthen Landcare-Aboriginal partnerships on the North Coast as part of the project, ‘CountryCare: Landcare-Indigenous partnerships building pathways towards eco-cultural bushfire recovery’.
Regional Landcare Coordinator for the North Coast, Josh Keating, says understanding for the need for the position arose from a Regional Community of Practice workshop, funded through the NSW Landcare Program, which highlighted the opportunities to connect and strengthen ties between the local Landcare community and Aboriginal groups and organisations.
“Landcare sees common objectives in the environmental work it does and the land management activities many Aboriginal organisations undertake,” says Josh.
“With bushfires ravaging our community this project and position will ensure that both communities have a great opportunity to engage with one another and share knowledge and experience for mutual learning.
“The things that Landcare can offer to Aboriginal communities include capacity building and increasing knowledge of technical skills regarding environmental management. Whereas Aboriginal groups can provide cultural knowledge and locally specific information that helps Landcarers understand how they can better manage their land. This will strengthen all our works in supporting our local environment and communities.
“For that reason, the idea of working together and sharing ideas, knowledge and doing joint projects is a core focus of this position.
This partnership project will collaborate with the NSW Landcare Program’s ‘Working Together’ Aboriginal Engagement Program to build on the existing relationships between Landcare and Aboriginal organisations across the North Coast.
“The program largely stems from the recognition that Aboriginal communities are the original “Landcarers” and we are all focused on caring for the land, environment and communities in our region.
“Engaging with First Nations groups is an area where greater understanding, co-design partnerships and collaborative initiatives will maximise the effectiveness of regional-scale bushfire recovery programs in the long-term.”
The project will partner with Landcare NSW, Aboriginal organisations and the Landcare networks across the North Coast to help achieve the critical long-term bushfire recovery outcomes and build the capacity and connections between local Aboriginal community organisations and the North Coast Landcare community.
NSW Landcare Program Community Landcare Aboriginal Engagement Officer, Craig Aspinall, says he hopes the role will be the first of many for Landcare networks, with mutual learning and understanding of environmental management and sustainability a key focus of Landcare and Aboriginal connection to Country.
“We called the Aboriginal Landcare Program “Working Together” for a reason! Collaboration means co-design, a true partnership, sharing, respecting. It is imperative that Landcare not only ‘talks the talk’ but also ‘walks the walk’ with Aboriginal people, gives them a voice, makes connections and supports the aspirations of Aboriginal communities in managing Country”, says Craig.
CountryCare: Landcare-Indigenous partnerships building pathways towards eco-cultural bushfire recovery is part of the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Program. This project is being supported by the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Program for Wildlife and their Habitat.