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

20 September 2006

$1 million for Wet Tropics World Heritage project

More than $1 million is being provided by the Federal Government to help preserve the cultural heritage of Rainforest Aboriginal people in the Wet Tropics Queensland World Heritage Area.

The funding has been announced in Cairns today by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Greg Hunt, and Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch.

Mr Hunt said an extensive cultural heritage mapping project will be carried out by Rainforest Aboriginal people over the next two years.

"Within the Wet Tropics World Heritage area there are at least 18 tribal groups with ongoing strong relationships and traditional connections to land," Mr Hunt said.

"To Rainforest Aboriginal people, the country, natural features and resources of the Wet Tropics are inseparably woven into their value systems. These are central to their spirituality, culture, social organisation and customary economy including food, medicines, tools and traditions.

"This project provides an opportunity for Traditional Owners of the Wet Tropics Rainforest region to record and preserve their rich and important culture for future generations.

"It will also provide a chance for Rainforest Aboriginal people to develop the technological skills necessary to record and manage cultural heritage information."

Mr Entsch said a key aspect of the project will see Traditional Owners interview tribal elders to gather and record information about Traditional Knowledge of places, species and use of their Traditional Country that relate to on-ground management of the Wet Tropics World Heritage area.

"So much of indigenous culture is passed on by spoken word so the field work undertaken by Traditional Owners will ensure Traditional Knowledge about places of cultural significance is passed onto future generations of Rainforest Aboriginal people," Mr Entsch said.

"Ultimately this project will provide a useful tool to educate the next generation and wider community about the need to protect and preserve the cultural heritage of the Wet tropics region.

"The information recorded over the next two years will also play an important role in the management of natural resources in the Wet Tropics World Heritage area," he said.

This project is jointly managed by ARC and FNQ NRM Ltd, with project partners including Traditional Owner groups of the WTQWHA, Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, Burdekin Dry Tropics NRM Board and James Cook University. For more information on this project contact: Chantal Roder on (07) 4035 5913 or 0428 457 784.

Media contact:
John Deller (Mr Hunt's office) 0400 496 596
Charlie McKillop (Mr Entsch's office) 0427 737 203

Commonwealth of Australia