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Media Release
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Greg Hunt MP

15 March 2005

Guiding Indigenous involvement in natural resource management

Greg Hunt, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, today announced new Guidelines for Indigenous Participation in Natural Resource Management to encourage indigenous communities across Australia to get involved in regional natural resource management (NRM) planning and activities.

Mr Hunt said the publication was part of a two-year $711,000 package under the Australian Government's $3 billion Natural Heritage Trust. The first stage of the project began last year and the guidelines were developed during this stage.

"The guidelines include a 'check list' to encourage discussion with Indigenous people on NRM activities, along with case studies of best practice management in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania," Mr Hunt said.

"We've already distributed this resource to regional NRM bodies throughout Australia, and will continue to consult with the Indigenous community to make sure the guidelines remain relevant and practical.

"Overall, this project highlights our whole-of-government approach to improving Indigenous service delivery. We're supporting Indigenous communities to manage land in a way that will contribute to health, welfare and economic development."

Community feedback and research from workshops during the first stage also lead to the development of an interactive CD ROM, Indigenous NRM Information and Data. The CD ROM provides user-friendly information in the form of fact sheets, contact lists and GIS mapping to identify Indigenous owned or managed lands within most NRM regions.

Mr Hunt said the next stage of the project would identify ways for Indigenous communities and regional bodies to set up arrangements or agreements to ensure proper representation.

"The focus will be on raising awareness of those best practice examples from the new Guidelines," Mr Hunt said.

"We want to encourage greater interaction between Indigenous communities and NRM groups, as well as to improve Indigenous involvement in delivering nationally important environmental outcomes such as pest control, improved water quality, and fire, coastal and marine management.

"We need Indigenous communities to be aware of their options and want all NRM bodies looking at the opportunities that increased Indigenous participation can deliver.

"To achieve this we need to understand the barriers to Indigenous involvement in NRM projects, improve access to NRM groups and increase awareness of the benefits of improved Indigenous participation."

For more information and for a copy of the Guidelines visit http://nrm.gov.au/indigenous/index.html or contact the Department of the Environment and Heritage on free-call 1800 803 772.

Media Contact:
Fiona Murphy (Mr Hunt's office) 0423 577 045

Commonwealth of Australia