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native title and protected areas project
Native title decisions in the High Court of Australia and subsequent
Commonwealth and State Native Title legislation are changing the
public policy settings for the tenure and management of protected
areas. A body of Native Title law now applies to a considerable
portion of the protected area estate in Queensland and elsewhere
in Australia. This raises important issues for Queensland's Environment
Non-Government Organisations (ENGOs).
ENGO's Native Title and Protected Areas project responds to this
development of native title law as it applies to protected areas.
The project provides research and development capacity to environment
groups. Through cooperative and participatory methods it seeks to
develop shared public policy on native title and protected areas.
In the second half of 2001 this proposed policy should be submitted
for a formal vote to around 50 member groups of the Queensland Conservation
policy is intended to provide clarification to the State Government
and to indigenous bodies on the ENGO position on tenure and management
of various types of protected areas and to provide a basis for negotiation
on matters concerning native title and protected areas.
Native Title and Protected Areas project provides coordination,
information exchange and communication between ENGOs and indigenous
representative bodies, Government agencies and other community interests.
It also provides input or assistance to various processes where
native title and environment issues are interrelated.
project has been running since mid-1999. It corresponds with the
commencement of the Queensland Government's "review of legislation
and policy relating to indigenous title to and management of national
parks and protected areas".
project has been run in several stages, following a detailed Project
description, and involves Queensland regional visits to assist
groups to build participation structures and engage in debate.
'indig-enviro' web site
Web site is being developed to provide news, to make available references
as they are produced through the project and to create an on-line
nexus for an environment protection-indigenous rights debate. It
is also a tool for communicating to a variety of other stakeholders
in relation to the Government's review.
The environment groups - ENGOs
The Native Title and Protected Areas project is being developed
across a broadly representative group of ENGOs in Queensland. The
groups involved in the project work across the State to build community
support for the establishment and ecologically sustainable management
of protected areas.
organisations involved in the project are a range of Regional,
State and National ENGOs that together reflect the broad agenda
of the conservation sector on protected areas. A majority of the
Queensland sector is involved as 'participant groups' - that is,
ENGOs formally working on developing a policy to a stage where it
can be put to the conservation sector as a whole. A further number
of groups are having input or helping to guide the project on this
basis. The rest of the groups broadly within the conservation sector
fall under the umbrella of the Queensland Conservation Council.
is a set of guidelines for the participation of ENGOs in the project.
These protocols enable cooperation, a commitment to consensus building
and accountability. They are intended to encourage open debate and
the appraisal of diverse viewpoints amongst ENGOs. The protocols
are in the form of a Participant Groups'
Agreement and ensure a democratic structure and integrity in
the policy development process.
resolution - QCC state conference May
a year of Native Title and Protected Areas Project work, the 2000
QCC Annual Conference, held at Dalby in Queensland, unanimously
passed the following Resolution -
this Conference calls upon the conservation movement to continue
to determine a Native Title and Protected Areas Policy, including
have a working submission to native title services and to Aboriginal
traditional owner groups and native title representative bodies;
engage participant groups in a further round of policy drafting
with the aim of achieving overall consensus
develop a policy to be put to all member groups of the Queensland
Conservation Council for formal decision
encourage all participating groups to formally adopt a voting
position by decision of a general meeting or, as minimum, of
executive council or committee
seek to work with indigenous and representative interests to
build common ground between indigenous rights and environment
project a cooperative image to the public and the community
and to provide informative and useful materials for awareness
raising and education
seek clarification of the Governments position on native
title and protected areas and to advocate for a legislatively
secured, sufficiently funded and properly resourced, cooperative
project's relationship to indigenous organisations
principle task of the project is to develop an ENGO policy on "native
title and protected areas". This policy will be a major focal point
in recognition of indigenous rights and native title by ENGOs. Beyond
this, it is hoped to be able to develop the capacity of ENGOs -
knowledge and skills, a communications system, policy review mechanisms,
contacts and protocols - in their dealings with traditional owners
in respect of protected areas.
Queensland Government has initiated the review of protected area
tenure and management (mainly National Parks) in response to the
common and statute law recognition of native title. The Government
agreed to fund the Queensland Indigenous Working Group (QIWG) in
recognition of the time and resources needed by QIWG to consult
with traditional owner groups. The QIWG proposal was developed out
of a three-day summit of indigenous leaders in April 1999. Advice
of the QIWG's work was published in the May
'99 and October
'99 issues of Land
native title and protected areas project seeks to work with traditional
owner groups. It is however a practical necessity to work through
various aboriginal representative organisations, particularly those
created by indigenous people to manage there own affairs in relation
to matters of governance and justice. The project does not wish
to interfere with these participatory and representative structures
of traditional owners or indigenous communities. It works, as far
as practical, with the QIWG, Native Title Representative Bodies
and Land Councils, and traditional owner groups and communities.
holding of joint indigenous rights and environment protection conferences
to explore various issues in some detail and to build networks of
cross-cultural and information exchange is part of the projects
groups may advocate against developments, proposals and unsustainable
practices on traditional owners’ lands that they consider damaging
to the areas natural and cultural values - for example, opposition
to the Jabiluka uranium mine in Kakadu. However, the project respects
the indigenous view that no one has the right to speak on behalf
of another's land. While it would be a fundamental break of protocol
and respect to do so, the project draws a distinction between speaking
on behalf of traditional owner's land and speaking about
traditional owner's land and activities thereon.
are developing protocols that would enable them to talk about matters
of environmental significance occurring on various parts of traditional
country. They are seeking a continuously improving relationship
to traditional owners and an understanding of the cross-cultural