From the CEO

Monday 21 September, 2015
Bush Heritage CEO Gerard O'Neill

Essential to our work, and to our future success, are strong, committed partnerships.

These come in various forms with a number of private landholders, non‑government organisations, community groups, and government departments. Of these, we have a significant focus on partnering with Aboriginal communities across Australia. Combining the invaluable knowledge of Traditional Owners with non‑indigenous scientific knowledge is a powerful way to ensure that the lands we manage together are conserved for generations to come.

NAIDOC Week in particular is an annual reminder that when we work together we achieve the best outcomes.

As part of NAIDOC Week this year we enjoyed a momentous day as the Budjiti, or Paroo River people, celebrated their native title determination, which covers more than 11,000 square kilometres south‑west of Cunnamulla in Queensland. This sets the foundation for future collaboration in this region.

Up on Cape York, Bush Heritage is proud to be partnering with the Olkola to support their Healthy Country planning. A key conservation concern for the Olkola is protecting one of their totems, the golden‑shouldered parrot (Psephotus chrysopterygius), and we're working with them to achieve this. This wonderful animal can thrive with the right support now available through the partnership.

We've officially launched our partnership with the Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation. Photo Luke Bayley.

Meanwhile, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, Bush Heritage has officially launched its partnership with the Bunuba people, more than 18 months in the making.

The Bunuba hold native title rights to 3,500 square kilometres of land north of Fitzroy Crossing. In 2014 the Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) and Bush Heritage entered into a formal partnership to deliver a Healthy Country Plan by November 2016 – Bunuba refer to this as their Jalangurru Muwayi Plan. In late July, Bush Heritage, BDAC, Parks and Wildlife and a variety of project partners met at Fitzroy Crossing to welcome new staff and form the project steering committee.

This work runs in conjunction with our Wunambal Gaambera partnership and our support for the Martu people in the Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area.

We can all be immensely proud of this work, but these achievements come with their own unique challenges. Principally, how do we make sure that the knowledge and skills we're building today can be carried forward for future generations?

One way we can help is through our Rick Farley Memorial Awards. Each year we award four Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander secondary school students a $500 grant to pursue studies in conservation management. We're currently assessing the 2015 nominations and will announce this year’s successful candidates in the coming weeks. The intention of these awards is to nurture in each student a passion for the bush and encourage them on their education journey. This helps to plant the seeds for a new generation of land managers and environmental partners.

Gerard O'Neill's signature
Gerard O'Neill, CEO

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