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Kantri Laif - Issue 3 2007

Author:  NAILSMA
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Welcome to all those readers of the only Indigenous newsletter for north Australian Indigenous land and sea management and development by Indigenous people in northern Australia. Much has happened since the last edition of Kantri Laif, which has experienced a slight delay due to staff changes in the NAILSMA office. On that note, I’d like to thank a few important individuals that have worked hard to shape the alliance to where it is now.

Ms Lisa Binge was the first staff member that joined me in establishing the alliance, and worked tirelessly on Kantri Laif, scholarships and scoping the leadership issues for those future generations of people in the rural and remote parts of the north. Lisa’s efforts on these activities have not gone without notice, and she has been an integral part of the face of NAILSMA.  Our thanks go out to Lisa in her future endeavours, and hope that one day she may be able to cross our paths again when she feels the need to return north from her country.

Mr Steve Johnson worked on the Indigenous Knowledge (IK) Strategy and joined us at our initial forum at Menngen on Wardaman country.  This is the first IK strategy to be developed across the north, and most likely, the country and I have no doubt that Steve’s efforts over the past two years through the strategy will provide much more appreciation of the unique position that IK holders have in maintaining vast expanses of important landscapes. Again, our thanks and deepest appreciation go out to Steve, and wish him well in his new job working as the Coordinator for the Li-Anthiwirriyarra Rangers at Borroloola.

NAILSMA has undergone continual growth around both projects, but respect as an entity that advocates and supports strategic research and development around land and sea management across the north has increased. A region that is dominated by Indigenous people, culture and heritage, and a region that will increasingly be recognised as a global centre of high biodiversity that has been managed by its residents for millennia. The opportunities as well as issues that are on the horizon before us include water, biodiversity, coastal management and surveillance, carbon and employment.

Opportunities to work with industry and the private sectors through partnerships are also growing daily, as the values stated above become global assets that provide an opportunity for Indigenous people to present their positions for national and international benefit. The hard fought battles on land rights and native title have provided these opportunities.

Unfortunately, NAILSMA’s relationship with the Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Savannas Management is coming to an end, as the TS–CRC was not successful in gaining a third round of funding. This means that the TS–CRC will effectively cease to operate at the end of the 07–08 financial year. It’s important that the TS–CRC is recognised for the positive foundational support it has provided to the alliance over the past 4 years, in particular the support from former CEO’s Dr John Childs, Professor Gordon Duff, current CEO Dr David Garnett, Advisory Committee Chair Daryl Pearce, NAILSMA Chair Peter Yu and Board members. The vacuum of research, collaborations and opportunities will decrease as there is no other entity working across the region — only NAILSMA remains.

The establishment of the Indigenous Water Policy Group has been a significant and important addition to our activities and fills an important gap in light of the attention that our rivers are gaining in the north for non consumptive and consumptive purposes.  I believe that whilst it’s important to ensure that Indigenous rights manifest into real outcomes for people on country, I also believe that we have some important foundational work to do with ensuring Indigenous aspirations are on the national agenda around water development in the north. You can read about the membership of the group in the article inside this edition.

Importantly, our logo, which you can see on our newsletter and our website was designed by Larrakia brothers Ian and Anthony Lee.

It was a monumental effort to come up with a design that encapsulates the values, people, traditions of the north and I think they done an outstanding job. Thank you both!

Finally, NAILSMA is developing a stronger position on important matters for Indigenous people across the north through the creation of policy positions that can be articulated to governments at all levels to ensure that Indigenous development around land and sea management can continue to grow in accordance with the needs, aspirations and requirements at the local, regional and national level.  This will take some time and effort to finalise, but is inevitable and necessary to ensure that the delicate mix of rights, responsibilities as well as recognition can be provided with the purposes of our future generations.

Joe Morrison, CEO, NAILSMA


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