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Jirrbal traditional owners plan for bigger roles in caring for country

GPS TRAINING: Barry Carney, Craig McPherson, Jessica Carney, Desley Mosquito, Elaine Blohm, Lex Corporal and Terrain NRM’s Evizel Seymour.

EXCITEMENT is building amongst the Tableland’s Jirrbal people as they begin planning for a more active role in caring for country.

The group is embarking on a major planning phase, which traditional owner Desley Mosquito sees as a stepping stone to new opportunities including a ranger program and the establishment of a Jirrbal indigenous protected area.

“We are beginning with a country-based plan that’ll set the course for us to go forward together,” Desley said.

“I see it as a solid foundation for our people. It’s early days yet but we’re hoping to hold a workshop later this year where everyone can come together and share their thoughts and feelings about what they want for country.”

The initiative follows a recent country-based planning workshop for traditional owners from all over the Far North which was organised by Terrain NRM in partnership with the Wet Tropics Management Authority and funded by the Tablelands Regional Council and the Australian Government.

“We had a small group and one-on-one time to get things started,’’ Desley said.

“Our people have a strategic plan but this kind of planning includes that in amongst a lot of other things that can range from caring for country to family wellbeing, health, education and generally looking after our mob.”

Desley also wants countrybased planning to inspire the younger generation.

“We belong to this land. The nature of this land is our identity – the trees, the water, the sea,’’ she said.

“We say this and we try to teach our children this.”

Terrain NRM’s Vanessa Drysdale said many traditional owner groups had now completed or were in the process of completing a country-based plan.

“These plans can be tailored to geographical areas, language groups or family groups,’’ she said.

“They also provide a framework for negotiating partnerships with government agencies and other groups, and for applying for funding to actively manage traditional lands.”

The Country-Based Planning Workshop was funded through the Tablelands Regional Council with an Australian Government Department of Social Services Strong and Resilient Communities Grant.

This project was supported by Terrain NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. It was also supported by the Wet Tropics Management Authority.

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