New Partnership in the Kimberley - working with Bunuba People in Fitzroy Crossing

on 05 Aug 2015 

On invitation from community leaders in Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, Bush Heritage Australia has officially launched its partnership with the Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC). This has been 18 months in development.

The Bunuba people’s Native Title rights and interests were recognised after a 13-year process in the Bunuba determination 2012. They hold exclusive rights to 3,500 square kilometres of land north of Fitzroy Crossing.

In  July 2015  Bush Heritage,  BDAC and project partners, including The Department of Parks and Wildlife, Environs Kimberley and Rangelands NRM met in Fitzroy Crossing to welcome new project staff, share perspectives and form the project steering committee. The committee comprises BDAC Directors, Bush Heritage Australia and The Department of Parks and Wildlife representatives.

BDAC and Bush Heritage entered into a formal partnership (under a Memorandum of Understanding) in 2014 to complete a Bunuba Healthy Country Project by June 2016 –  Bunuba people refer to this as their Jalangurru Muwayi Plan. 

Bunuba country exists in the central-west Kimberley surrounding the township of Fitzroy Crossing and includes Giekie Gorge, Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge National Parks with Bunuba being the custodians of the nationally significant Jandamarra story

We've formally committed to work together to support the Bunuba People in the sustainable management, conservation and social, cultural and economic development of their traditional land and waters.

The Department of Parks and Wildlife will continue to support and fund the Bunuba Rangers to help manage nine significant central west Kimberley conservation reserves established on Bunuba country.

Priority work is underway to recruit and establish the Kimberley-based project team that will oversee the Healthy Country Plan development, support the community engagement process and ensure the BDAC has the resources and capacity to progress its healthy country aspirations.

Bush Heritage has worked with Open Standards training partners to help Bunuba develop their Jalangurru Muwayi vision and values statements (below), which have provided a clear, positive community focus going into this Healthy Country project.

Vision and values statements

  • Look after all of Bunuba Country
  • Old and young Bunuba people creating a shared direction and carrying knowledge
  • Working with many partners
  • Developing skills, knowledge and employing best practice
  • Helping Bunuba people get ready for the future.

The Bunuba Healthy Country project will be characterised by the involvement of numerous supporting partners; with Bush Heritage helping to bring together specialist expertise, funding partners, agricultural interests, neighboring landholders, government agencies and the Bunuba community to make this project a success.  

Bush Heritage is funding the two-year development of the Healthy Country plan, facilitated by a project coordinator based in the west Kimberley, establishing relations with the Bunuba community, overseeing return to country trips and actively supporting Bunuba people to realise their vision for healthy country.

This is an exciting and important step for Bush Heritage Australia's ongoing  and developing relationship with traditional owners in the Kimberley region of Northern Australia.