Having a yarn: The importance of appropriate engagement and participation in the development of Indigenous driven environmental policy, Queensland, Australia
AbstractAcross Australia Indigenous peoples have responsibility for managing country. Increasingly, policy partnerships between management agencies, mining companies, conservation groups and the pastoral industry are being brokered with traditional owners of land and sea. The successful outcome of these policies necessitates the implementation of participative and culturally appropriate and professional processes of engagement with Indigenous communities. This paper considers this challenge in the context of two case studies along the Great Barrier Reef in north Queensland, Australia; (i) a sea country co-management initiative developed by Girringun, a traditional owner representative body, and (ii) a Land and Sea Management Framework developed by the Wuthathi people, traditional owners of Shelburne Bay, Cape York Peninsula. Both programs necessitated the implementation of participative and culturally appropriate and professional processes of engagement with indigenous communities. This included addressing local modes of governance and community relations. In exploring these challenges through the forums of engagement each group used, this paper argues that the lessons learned are not only crucial to ensuring effective community engagement with Indigenous peoples but have relevance to ensuring effective policy outcomes overall. It concludes with the presentation of a socially just conservation framework which incorporates some of these challenges and suggests a way forward that will secure not only effective processes of community engagement but socially just conservation outcomes.
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