Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Julia Gillard MP

Prime Minister

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Australia announces global indigenous network

Joint media release
21 June 2012

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for the Environment and Sustainability Tony Burke today announced a new program to link indigenous expertise and modern technology to improve the way we manage our environment globally.

Australia has joined with Brazil, Norway and New Zealand to form the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Land and Sea Managers Network.

The program will help share ancient environmental traditions with communities across the globe to create an internationally-focused network of Indigenous land and sea managers.

It will draw on existing networks, such as Australia’s Working on Country program which funds almost 700 Indigenous rangers to use traditional knowledge, as well as cutting-edge science to manage over 1.5 million square kilometres of land and sea country.

Speaking at the outset of the Rio + 20 conference, the Prime Minister said protecting our environment was a shared task.

That’s why we have representatives such as the Australian Indigenous community of Ardyaloon in north-west Australia here at Rio to start the exchange.

Mr Burke said it took Australia a long time to recognise that indigenous rangers were often the best placed people in Australia to provide environmental management to the land and sea country.

"Over the past few years through Working on Country, the number of indigenous rangers has now built up to around 700 - that’s 700 additional people engaged in environmental management with all the benefits of traditional knowledge," he said.

"It’s some of the best work our Environment Department is involved with and it’s a credit to every ranger that this sort of expertise is now being recognised internationally.

"Every day, including in some of the most remote parts of our continent, there are indigenous rangers conducting surveys, eliminating pests and caring for country."

Australia will formally kick-start the development of the Network through an international conference in Darwin in May 2013 to bring Indigenous peoples and local communities together from around the world to build the Network.

The Darwin conference will consider practical examples of successful knowledge exchange and call on all participants to help shape the initiative.

More information on the Network can be found at www.nrm.gov.au/indigenous/network