‘Looking after Country’ funding to support Indigenous environmental initiatives

By Melissa Coade

Tuesday July 6, 2021

sea and land
(vectortwins/Adobe)

The Queensland government has announced $500,000 funding will be made available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations for land and sea conservation efforts.

Up to $75,000 will be available for each project that has links to conservation or restoration of land and sea.

Applications for projects such as events, conservation of cultural sites, or educational programs that share knowledge of country, habitat restoration and traditional fire management will be accepted until August 9.

In a statement released on Tuesday, environment minister Meaghan Scanlon said that the funding would strengthen ‘major strides’ that the Queensland government has already made towards a Path to Treaty.

“This year’s NAIDOC theme is ‘Healing Country: embracing First Nation cultural knowledge and understanding’, which is exactly what these grants are aimed at,” Scanlon said.

“First Nations communities have played a central and powerful role in caring for environment, culture and heritage for tens of thousands of years.” 

The minister added that the ‘Looking after Country’ program built on a similar funding program last year. The 2020 program also led to the creation of 25 new jobs under the state government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

One of the 2020 grants supported the work of Goorathuntha traditional owners to deliver a women’s healing group project on Mt Tabor station, near Warwick. 

The project helped to establish two women’s healing camps that Bidjara women used to visit and connect with their strong cultural heritage, where women are invited to spend time undertaking cultural learning from Elders and devising planning protection measures for cultural heritage sites.

Leann Wilson, a Bidjara and Kara-Kara woman, said that the camp offered her an experience of ‘discovery, celebration and reconnection’.

This opportunity allowed me to connect with family I didn’t know about and to country I had never been on,” Wilson said.

“I walked in the footsteps of my ancestors, felt their presence, understood and embraced the resilience … and in those moments my spirit was strengthened.”

Another successful 2020 project undertook a heritage site survey and management plan at Balabay (Weary Bay) near Bloomfield. 

The Dabu Jajikal Aboriginal Corporation project is aimed at conserving Jajikal cultural heritage and facilitates visits to country by elders to survey sites. 

The program also includes a workshop with families, a survey of documented records and development of a management plan.

Any local Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Councils, Indigenous Corporations, and non-profit corporations and organisations interested in applying for the 2021 ‘Looking after Country’ grants are encouraged to find out more on the Queensland environment department’s website.


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