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Second Indigenous Experts Forum on Sustainable Economic Development

Participants of the Second Indigenous Experts Forum

Developing an Indigenous prospectus for northern development

The Second Forum was instrumental in furthering the role of the North Australia Indigenous Experts Forum on Sustainable Economic Development and its relationship with the Northern Australia Ministerial Forum and other government agencies, institutions and industry interests relevant to northern development.

The Second Forum was convened by the Chair Professor Patrick Dodson and Deputy Chair Peter Yu between 30 April and 2 May 2013 in Kakadu National Park, NT, a World Heritage area jointly managed by Traditional Owners and Environment Australia. Young Indigenous leaders, elders, leading professionals, practitioners and experts in a range of fields came together to review progress of the Indigenous Experts Forum since it convened in November 2011 and since the First Forum held in June 2012.

The overall aim of the Second Forum was to consider options and set priorities for furthering Indigenous participation in all northern development reforms relevant to the significant land investments of north Australian Indigenous land managers.

The Second Forum produced a report: 'An Indigenous prospectus for participating in the sustainable development of north Australia' and associated 22 minute video News Story Report. Discussions at the Second Forum were informed by the comprehensive Position Paper.

Professor Dodson presented the Forum report to the Sixth Northern Australia Ministerial Forum held in Cairns on 13 - 14 June, 2013.

The Second Forum consisted of two parts; one day of field trips, and the main forum held over two days. View the forum overview and Agenda for further detail.

Field Trips

The purpose of the field trips was to draw from experiences in Indigenous land management to assist with setting the context for the rest of the forum. The field trips were hosted by local Traditional Owners, government and industry bodies relevant to 1. resource extraction, 2. land and sea management, 3. pastoral investments, and 4. tourism, arts and culture.

  1. Resource extraction – Tour of Ranger Uranium Mine hosted by Energy Resources of Australia Ltd which mines and produces uranium oxide at a site near Jabiru, followed by talks with Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation about how they are working with Mirrar people to manage the impacts of mining on their country and community.
  2. Land and sea management – Tour of iconic Ubirr rock art site hosted by Kakadu Cultural Tours and discussions with local land managers about management interest and issues – salt water intrusion, feral animals, tourim impacts, mining threats, special areas protection and fire management.
  3. Pastoral investments – Visit to Gunbalanya Station and meat works to talk about beef production industries as well as other Indigenous pastoral investment opportunities.
  4. Tourism, arts and culture – Tour of Nourlangie rock art site hosted by Traditional Owners, Violet Lawson and Jeffrey Lee, as well as Kakadu National Park rangers; followed by a visit to Warradjan Cultural Centre, managed by Gagudju Dreaming. The tour highlighted local perspectives of managing culture through arts and tourism and the interest and issues of growing these niche markets as part of northern development.

Following the field trips keynote speakers from the Western and Central Arnhem Land Fire Abatement projects (WALFA and CALFA respectively) spoke about their successful story of using traditional fire management practices in modern times to get people back on country and looking after country.

Building on this story, presentations from Indigenous Land Corporation and United Nations University also highlighted how fire abatement is now providing for Indigenous participation in the emerging carbon market at Fish River Station in the Daly region and how the benefits of traditional fire management practices are being realised in developing countries overseas with similar savanna landscapes.

Main Forum

Following the field trips, the Main Forum was convened over two days at Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn from 1-2 May.

Forum Resolutions

Conscious of the growing and critical debate regarding global food security and in response to the Australian Government’s Asian Century White Paper and aware of the need for free, prior and informed consent by Indigenous peoples, the Second North Australian Indigenous Experts Forum endorses the following.

  • Preparation of an Indigenous Prospectus for northern Australian development which will set out the aspirations of Indigenous people to participate in and share the benefits of future northern development and the conditions under which land owners may consider co-investment in the commercial use of lands.
  • The Prospectus will identify options for, and seek co-investment from industry, NGOs and governments. These opportunities will include the agriculture, pastoral, fisheries (including aquaculture), environmental services and tourism industries and other sectors.
  • The existing Indigenous Expert Panel, with strengthened participation of women and young leaders, as the leadership group to engage with national and international industry leaders and with governments on matters detailed in the Prospectus.
  • NAILSMA continues its role as the secretariat supporting the Indigenous Expert Panel and to facilitate engagement of the broader northern Australian Indigenous community.


View the pdf file of the Background to the Indigenous Experts Forum here.

Want to know more?

Go to links in the blue box top left, and to:

NAILSMA Water Resource Management Program

Go to another relevant website:

Northern Australia Ministerial Forum
Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce


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