First Nations Partnerships


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Acknowledgement of Country

Aboriginal people are the First Peoples and Nations of South Australia. The Coorong, connected waters and surrounding lands have sustained unique First Nations cultures since time immemorial. The Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin program (HCHB) acknowledges the range of First Nations’ rights, interests and obligations for the Coorong and connected waterways and the cultural connections that exist between First Nations peoples across the region and seeks to support their equitable engagement. Aboriginal peoples’ spiritual, social, cultural and economic practices come from their lands and waters, and they continue to maintain their cultural heritage, economies, languages and laws which are of ongoing importance.

Project objective

The objective of the First Nations Partnerships Project is to partner with Ngarrindjeri and First Nations of the South East to ensure they have sufficient capacity to apply their cultural knowledge, values and interests to shape, inform and be involved in implementing initiatives across the HCHB program.

The project aims to support the preservation and promotion of First Nations culture, and ensure the Ngarrindjeri and First Nations of the South East are engaged in the development and implementation of the HCHB program.

The problem

The health of the Coorong and surrounding lands and waters is intrinsically linked to the health of the Ngarrindjeri and First Nations of the South East. These First Nation communities have historical and on-going rights, interests and cultural obligations for the region.

The impacts of the reduced flows and Millennium Drought on the Coorong has had significant impacts on the wellbeing of the First Nations peoples.

Cultural rights and ability to care for the land, waters and ecosystems that depend on them have been impacted by the decline of the Coorong and surrounds.

What we are doing

The First Nations Partnerships project is designed to support all five other HCHB projects in including cultural knowledge and perspectives across the program. This supports environmental outcomes for the Coorong by strengthening the connectivity between cultures and caring for country, and builds on the work undertaken with scientists and the broader non-Aboriginal community.

The project is working with Ngarrindjeri and First Nations of the South East to advise on cultural and social benefits and impacts of proposed initiatives, undertake cultural heritage approvals and recommendations, and ensure that cultural knowledge is appropriately included in strategies, policies and plans to improve the restoration of the Coorong and surrounding lands and waters.

The HCHB program is also working with Ngarrindjeri and First Nations of the South East in facilitating opportunities and involvement of First Nations businesses and cultural rangers to deliver works and activities.

What have we done so far?

Engagement with First Nations has been instrumental in guiding the content of the projects to date.

Engagement activities so far have included:

  • Working Group and Focus Group meetings
  • Smoking ceremonies
  • Workshops
  • Site visits
  • Cultural heritage assessments and surveys
  • Involvement in multi-criteria analyses
  • Risk assessment processes
  • Welcome to Country delivered at major HCHB program events.

What’s next?

The HCHB team is committed to continuing to partner with the First Nations communities. Staff from the HCHB team will be engaging in Cultural Awareness Training provided by both First Nations groups to better support relationships and program outcomes through improved HCHB staff understanding of Ngarrindjeri and First Nations of the South East culture.

HCHB Projects will continue to work with the First Nations partners on each phase of the respective projects.

The First Nations Partnership project provides an opportunity for all projects to work together to ensure First Nations are partnered with over the lifetime of the program.

To receive Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin updates and opportunities, including citizen science activities and community consultations, please email projectcoorong@sa.gov.au.

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