Oral Presentation 9th Australian Stream Management Conference 2018

Georges River Aboriginal Riverkeeper Team: a model for successful engagement of Aboriginal communities in natural resource management of urban areas (#47)

Tony Wales , Vanessa Cavanagh

The integration of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and involvement of Aboriginal communities in the Natural Resource Management programs of governments in urban areas is a developing concept compared to similar projects in regional and remote locations of Australia. There are a variety of challenges faced in the urban experience, including but not limited to: greater numbers of stakeholders with competing demands; insufficient and/or inappropriate communication with Aboriginal groups; and the accessibility of TEK in urban areas. From 2014 to 2017, an Aboriginal Riverkeeper Team was active in the Georges River catchment in southern Sydney, providing formal conservation land management qualifications and TEK training for participants while delivering significant on-ground outcomes. The Aboriginal Riverkeeper Team was a success due to an Aboriginal engagement model which included a wide range of Aboriginal stakeholders, community engagement from concept to completion, shared goals, the valuing of Aboriginal culture, a prioritisation of Aboriginal participation and the empowerment of Aboriginal leadership. We look at the foundation activities and engagement which led to the Local Aboriginal Land Councils of southern Sydney championing the Aboriginal Riverkeeper Team as a model for local government Aboriginal engagement in urban areas. While the engagement process’s long term goal was Aboriginal self-determination, the overall engagement process became a two-way exchange and learning experience for both the local government councils and Aboriginal organisations and individuals.

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