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Media Release
The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders

6 June 2006

Anindilyakwa Indigenous Protected Area - historic step for Groote Eylandt


The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for national parks, today  announced that traditional owners of the remote Groote archipelago in the Gulf of Carpentaria have declared their country an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), promising to manage it according to international conservation guidelines in the interests of all Australians.

Mr Hunt also announced $100,000 in funding to the newly declared IPA for Indigenous rangers to undertake land management measures– including weed and pest control, surveillance for illegal fishing and cleaning up ghost nets that foul the remote beaches and entangle turtles.

“The declaration of the IPA will lead to new jobs for Anindilyakwa people, based on environment conservation, cultural protection and ecotourism and the new funding will enable Indigenous rangers to further their skills in land management practices and environmental monitoring,” Mr Hunt said.

“These are strong communities who have thought long and hard about how they can protect their country and culture while creating sustainable jobs on their lands for their children and grandchildren.

“Last year the traditional owners put tough restrictions on alcohol. Now they have decided that their future lies in actively looking after some of the richest marine biodiversity in Australia, and the rare flora and fauna that are virtually untouched by feral pests and diseases.

 “Anindilyakwa joins other remote communities who've found that an Indigenous Protected Area breaks the long cycle of Aboriginal disadvantage.  An IPA helps deliver worthwhile jobs, new technical and management skills, confidence and self esteem.

“Many of these skills, as well as a great sense of community pride and appreciation for their own culture, are learned by Indigenous young people through the Junior Rangers program and, as they progress through training, Indigenous Rangers programs.

“These types of programs operate at Uluru and Kakadu as well as Groote Eylandt and I believe they should form the basis of a national model to provide career opportunities in land management for Indigenous people.

“The spin-off is a greater capacity to look after their own affairs, coupled with recognition and respect from both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities,” Mr Hunt said.

The Chairman of the Anindilyakwa Land Council Tony Wurrumarrba said the declaration of the IPA was a historic day for his people.

“Our land and sea country is everything to us,” Mr Wurrumarrba said. “It nourishes and sustains us.  It contains the story of our history that stretches back forever.  It teaches us our law and it celebrates our ancestors.

“We want to use our knowledge and our law to look after our country, but we recognise that we also need training and skills in the best ideas and modern methods of managing country.

 “The IPA gives us real jobs for our people doing work that they value – and which is valued by all Australians.

“We will develop new business opportunities based on our land and sea management. We have begun training our people to work in our new $16 million ecotourism resort which will open in July next year, offering visitors from around the world the chance to experience our culture with Indigenous fishing, bush tucker tours and night camps on country with our people.

“As part of the IPA, we will continue to work with Gemco in rehabilitating old mine sites.  We believe that if mining is properly managed it can provide economic opportunities for our young people as well as resources and expertise to help us manage our lands,” Mr Wurrumarrba said.

Anindilyakwa becomes the twentieth community to declare their country an Indigenous Protected Area.  The area now becomes part of Australia's National Reserve System, a network of important parcels of land where examples of our biodiversity are protected for future generations.

Since 1996, Indigenous landholders have declared approximately 14 million hectares – almost 6 per cent of Australia's land mass - as Indigenous Protected Areas.

The Australian Government has provided more than $14.8 million in funding to IPAs since 1996, with an additional $2.9 million to be allocated in 2006-07.

For further information on Indigenous Protected Areas, visit www.deh.gov.au/indigenous/ipa.

Media contact:
Kristy McSweeney (Mr Hunt's office) 0415 740 722
Margot Marshall (Department of the Environment and Heritage) 0418 624 847

Commonwealth of Australia