The Eastern Kuku Yalanji people will take formal ownership of four national parks – including the world-heritage Daintree Rainforest – after reaching a historic deal with the state government today.
Traditional Owners this morning met with Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister and Member for Barron River Craig Crawford in Bloomfield, north of Wujal Wujal.
The agreement covers the Daintree, Ngalba-bulal, Kalkajaka and the Hope Islands National Parks – more than 160,000 hectares of land.
The parks will now be jointly-managed by Traditional Owners and the Queensland government, with the intention to eventually be wholly managed by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Bama.
Chrissy Grant, Traditonal Owner and incoming Chair of the Wet Tropics Management Authority Board, said the four-year-long negotiations with governments and other parties was an important process to undertake.
“Our goal is to establish a foundation to provide confident and competent people with pathways and opportunities for mentoring, training, apprenticeships, work experience and employment for our Eastern Kuku Yalanji Bama,” Ms Grant said.
“[We will] fill positions from a wide range of skilled trades, land and sea management, hospitality, tourism, and research so that we are in control of our own destinies.
“On 29 September 2021, this significant historic event becomes legal and a reality for the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Bama.
“I want to thank the TONC members, Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, and particularly our legal advisers who fought for the best that we could get through some trying times.”
Minister Crawford said the land hand-back is the first place in Australia where Traditional Owners will simultaneously take on ownership and have a significant role in joint management of a UNESCO World Heritage Area.
“It is truly ground-breaking and shows that the Palaszczuk Government is committed to reconciliation, Treaty and righting the wrongs of past generations,” he said.
“Some of the benefits for the Traditional Owners will be funds provided annually and in perpetuity for the joint management of the national parks.
“We will also provide funds to develop a tourism hub at Dubudji, first options for contracting on national parks, first rights to consider new tourism proposals, and endeavour to increase the skills and numbers of Jabalbina Indigenous rangers.”
There are now 32 Aboriginal-owned and jointly-managed national parks on the Cape York Peninsula.
- The Daintree national park and other Wet Tropics sites will be handed back to Traditional Owners
- The agreement includes formal ownership and co-management of more than 160,000 hectares
- The World Heritage site joins others in Australia such as Uluru and Kakadu, also in the hands of First Nations custodians