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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage
6 July 2000
Dr Sharman Stone MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage and member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation today officially unveiled Environment Australia's Reconciliation Action Plan and announced details of a new Indigenous Advisory Committee as part of NAIDOC Week in Canberra.
"It is now well understood that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have special knowledge that can help ensure the preservation and protection of our country's great biodiversity. As well, the economic independence and self determination of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities depends on their continuing to be able to work to conserve their home countries", Sharman Stone said.
"Environment Australia is to be congratulated for taking the lead amongst Federal Government Departments in evaluating how to better interact with their indigenous staff, clients and the wider indigenous community".
Environment Australia was formally asked by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation to examine how they could contribute to the reconciliation process in July of last year. As a result of this request a high level steering committee was formed across the portfolio to examine how the Department could better coordinate its indigenous programs, develop career structures and mentoring for indigenous staff employed by EA.
"The Reconciliation Action Plan is the result of much discussion and analysis within the Department about what has worked and what needs further development."
"Some of EA's initiatives, for example the Indigenous Land Management Facilitators and Indigenous Protected Area Programs are at the forefront of providing practical and effective assistance to indigenous people to help them manage and conserve their land", she said.
"In addition EA currently has almost 50% of National Parks staff who are indigenous."
Dr Stone said that the release of the Reconciliation Action Plan presented a challenge to Environment Australia to continue to build on their relationship with indigenous people.
"The new Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act is another major step forward for reconciliation. It aims to promote the use of indigenous peoples' knowledge of biodiversity and recognises their role in the conservation of the environment."
Dr Stone also announced the formation of the new Indigenous Advisory Committee to work with the EPBC. The IAC will advise the Minister for the Environment and Heritage on the operation and effectiveness of indigenous related aspects of the new Act.
"I am pleased that Gatjil Djerrkura has agreed to Chair the new Committee. His experience and knowledge of traditional environmental and land management practices will add significant expertise to the operation and overview of the new act".
Further information on the Reconciliation Action Plan can be found at: http://www.environment.gov.au/search/whats-new.html
Simon Frost 02 6277 2016 or 0419 495 468
July 6 2000