NAIDOC week is celebrated each year in July to acknowledge the history, culture and achievements of First Nations people. This year’s theme is Heal Country, calling for greater management, involvement and empowerment by First Nations over country. Healing Country means embracing First Nations cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage.
The Limestone Coast Landscape Board has been working collaboratively with First Nations on the back of a 16-year working relationship between the South East Aboriginal Focus Group and the South East Natural Resources Management Board. Chair Penny Schulz said the board had collaborated with South East First Nations and Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation to create the Walking Together Statement of Commitment.
“The Limestone Coast Landscape Board has been engaging with First Nations groups over the past twelve months building on the relationships established by the previous South East Natural Resources Management Board,” she said. “The Walking Together Statement reflects the Limestone Coast Landscape Board’s commitment to embedding First Nations knowledge into our work and providing opportunities to work together in sustainable landscape management.”
Ms Schulz said the statement reflected the South East Aboriginal Focus Group’s (SEAFG) Lartara Wirkeri Cultural Governance framework which was developed by the group to “promote best practice around cultural outcomes in caring for our regional landscapes”.
“The Lartara-Wirkeri Cultural Governance framework has also been applied in developing a cultural agreement between SEAFG and Burrandies Aboriginal Corporation enabling Burrandies to facilitate delivery of fee for service environmental projects on behalf of SEAFG,” she said.
“To celebrate the Walking Together statement, the Limestone Coast Landscape Board commissioned an artwork by Marie Clarke, a proud Wemba Wemba, Wergaia, Gunditjmara woman who was born at and lives in Bordertown. “Marie has reconnected with her artistic background through her time spent producing this art piece.”
Ms Clarke said the piece was a mixed medium work that gave an aerial view of the various regions of the Limestone Coast and surrounding areas. “The round canvas gives a flow on effect, portraying the cycles of nature and life, the continuum of earth and universe, along with First Nations peoples’ connection to the environment,” she said.
“No matter who we are, if we work together to preserve, rectify and right the land and waterways for the future, then we hold the key to survival. We rely on the environment to sustain us, to keep us alive. It is a reciprocal relationship. Healing the environment is healing the people.”