Skip to content

Reconciliation & beyond – our Cultural Competency Framework

Our work with Aboriginal people and communities is central to our values, vision, purpose and conservation success.

We work in partnership with 25 Aboriginal groups on their land and sea country and collaborate through meaningful engagement with Traditional Owners on the 37 reserves that we manage for conservation.

We acknowledge Aboriginal peoples’ long and rich history in looking after country, their ongoing and invaluable role in modern conservation and their right to self-determination. We are proud that Aboriginal people choose to work with us so that together we may better understand and manage the land under our care.

We recognise that working together through respectful right-way relationships is the only way to look after country, to provide lasting and significant outcomes for landscapes, species and people.

This is a recognition shared across our organisation; from our CEO and board, to our senior leadership and Aboriginal engagement teams and our staff on the ground, as well as those based in Melbourne’s conservation support centre.

Looking after country together is an important step on our shared journey towards true reconciliation.

While some organisations adopt a Reconciliation Action Plan to drive practical actions towards reconciliation, Bush Heritage has opted for a Cultural Competency Framework to suit our unique vision.

The framework is an essential document for all staff. It was developed by the strong Aboriginal leaders of our Aboriginal Engagement team and outlines ways to embed cultural competency into everything we do.

With such a significant portion of our conservation work undertaken in partnership with Aboriginal people, the framework outlines the tools and support systems necessary to create and maintain strong and healthy relationships with Aboriginal people and communities.

It says much about who we are, our lived values, and the actions that can underpin a shared journey towards looking after country, the right way, with Aboriginal decision-makers at the helm. It's an important step to bringing everyone at Bush Heritage onto the same page.

The Cultural Competency Framework was first adopted in 2019 and was rolled out organisation-wide.

Key areas of focus

  • Organisation: creating a workplace culture that values, prioritises, rewards and fosters cultural competency
  • Systems: implementing policies, procedures, resources and monitoring progress to embed and grow competency across the organisation
  • Individual: improving awareness of cultural biases, and supporting staff to learn and turn this into practice in daily communications, work activities and personal lives
  • Professional: prioritising cultural competency for professional development and education.

Cultural competence is an ongoing process that requires continuous assessment and reflection from all of us. As late Aboriginal leader Dr. Alf Bamblett said, "Culture is to people as water is to fish." We take our own culture for granted as it's part of our identity and part of our very being. Becoming culturally competent requires a shift in thinking as well as in practice.

We are proud to be part of this shift.

Cultural competency is an ongoing and living process. Our Aboriginal Engagement team continue to review this process and develop new and adaptive ways to ensure that we're always striving to strengthen our cultural understanding and implement a right-way approach across our organisation and in all facets of our work.

The Birriliburu Rangers with Bush Heritage Ecologist Vanessa Westcott. Photo by Annette Ruzicka The Birriliburu Rangers with Bush Heritage Ecologist Vanessa Westcott. Photo by Annette Ruzicka
Bush Heritage CEO, Heather Campbell and Aboriginal Engagement Executive Manager Cissy Gore-Birch Bush Heritage CEO, Heather Campbell and Aboriginal Engagement Executive Manager Cissy Gore-Birch

Related stories

Traditional Owners at Edgbaston.

26/09/2023 26/09/2023

Back to Bidjara Country

It didn’t take long before evidence of a rich cultural history was found. Ancient stone tools, rock art and the connecting of storylines and songlines characterised the first Bidjara cultural heritage survey in August.

Read More
Ferns and rock orchids

19/07/2023 19/07/2023

First time on Brogo

Brogo Reserve is on Yuin Country – so every visit is an opportunity to get to know the lands and waters that my Ancestors knew like the backs of their hands. I'm based in Sydney - it's hard for me to live so far away from Yuin Country. This is something that Aboriginal people feel deep in their spirit and blood, like something tugging you back in that direction, back where you belong.

Read More
Aunty Lynette Nixon

06/07/2023 06/07/2023

NAIDOC Week 2023: For our Elders

This NAIDOC Week, we were lucky enough to hear directly from Elders themselves, as well as Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people who sent in powerful words from their ancestral homelands. Their wise reflections spoke to this year’s theme ‘For our Elders’, touching on the importance of listening, keeping language alive and how traditional cultural practices and knowledge can help address environmental challenges.

Read More
For our Elders: NAIDOC week theme 2023

06/07/2023

NAIDOC week webinar 2023

Join our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff Bruce Hammond, Stephina Salee and Ross Mitchell as they have a yarn about this year's NAIDOC Week theme 'For Our Elders'.

Read More

BUSHTRACKS 13/06/2023

Returning to Country

In Western Australia's Southwest Botanical Province, when Badimia, Bimarra and Barna come together, great things happen.

Read More
View from Mount Kerang on Nardoo Hills Reserve. By Belinda Lees

BUSHTRACKS 13/06/2023

Mapping our future

The ‘Climate Futures’ project helps us stay one step ahead of the climate curve. It's a long-term analysis of how the climate is likely to change in our priority landscapes and the expected impacts.

Read More

BLOG 02/06/2023

Learning more about the Night Parrot

In May 2023, six indigenous ranger groups travelled to Pullen Pullen Reserve, Maiawali Country, in Western Queensland. It's here that the Night Parrot was rediscovered in 2013, after it was thought to have gone extinct. Bush Heritage purchased the property in 2016 and have been working tirelessly to protect the mysterious bird. 

Read More
Yajula from above. By Benjamin Broadwith

BUSHTRACKS 13/01/2023

Ngapa Kunangkul – Living waters

A long-awaited return to sacred water sites on Karajarri Country provides Elders and rangers with the chance to preserve knowledge and protect country for future generations.

Read More
Pandanus on the Robinson River. By Will Sacre

BUSHTRACKS 13/01/2023

Learning Garawa

“I think to read and write in Garawa out in the bush is everything,” says Nancy. “You’re on the land to learn about your culture.”

Read More

BLOG 01/12/2022

Building networks, sharing knowledge

Knowledge exchanges with other ranger groups and Aboriginal Corporations has been a focus for the Birriliburu Rangers in 2022. Every opportunity has been taken to strengthen ranger networks and learn from others.

Read More

BUSHTRACKS 17/10/2022

Garma and the future

After four days of sharing knowledge, time and culture at Garma Festival, the team reflects on what it taught them - for the future and for Country.

Read More

BUSHTRACKS 14/06/2022

Fish River Station

A new fee-for-service model between Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation and Bush Heritage is supporting conservation at Fish River Station in the Northern Territory.

Read More

BLOG 18/05/2022

Connecting with Budjiti Country

During the Easter holidays, a Budjiti Cultural Camp saw 20 Budjiti people on country. A trip to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies also marked a significant step towards reviving language and culture.

Read More
Gorpulyul billabong on Dalabon country, flooded during djewk (wet season) time. Photo David Hancock.

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2022

Language of the seasons

Rembarrnga and Dalabon Elders in central Arnhem Land are leading a community-wide effort to keep language and culture strong by documenting their seasonal calendar.

Read More

BUSHTRACKS 14/01/2022

Homeward bound

A new Indigenous tourism venture in the Kimberley is opening doors for Balanggarra people to keep their country healthy, and in their hands.

Read More

BLOG 22/11/2021

Yorgas Bush Camp at Red Moort

Several Noongar women enjoyed two days on country exploring Red Moort Reserve and soaking up the view from the field station.

Read More

BLOG 06/07/2021

Healing the land and people

Today, I want to talk to you about the resilience of country and how we as a community, live, work and engage in this space and I want to talk about healing country.

Read More

BLOG 02/07/2021

We must heal Country together

This NAIDOC Week we celebrate the flow and connectedness of People and Country, highlighting the relationship Bush Heritage holds with the Badimia Traditional Owners of the Midwest-Gascoyne region in Western Australia.

Read More

BUSHTRACKS 18/06/2021

Learning two ways

In 2016, a desire to keep culture alive and maintain a strong connection to country led the Waanyi Garawa rangers to organise an annual biodiversity survey and culture camp. Five years on, the camps bring together over 100 participants and have a strong focus on the next generation

Read More

BLOG 15/06/2021

Historic day for Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan people

The Mawonga IPA declaration realises long held dreams of managing ngurrampaa (country).

Read More

BLOG 26/05/2021

Reconciliation & beyond – our Cultural Competency Framework

Our work with Aboriginal people and communities is central to our values, vision, purpose and conservation success.

Read More

BLOG 22/04/2021

Healing Hamelin

At Hamelin Station Reserve in mid-west Western Australia, Malgana Rangers are hard at work restoring the land.

Read More

BLOG 26/03/2021

A healthy desert is crucial for my culture’s survival

A new report published last week highlights 19 ecosystems on land and sea country that are unravelling due to pressures from climate change and human impacts. The Georgina Gidgee woodlands of central Australia is one of them.

Read More

BLOG 17/12/2020

$1.2 million grant to combat extinction

The University of Melbourne and Bush Heritage Australia have been awarded a significant grant of $1.2 million by The Ian Potter Foundation to build an open-source Conservation Knowledge System. This online platform will combine First Nations' knowledge and Western science for the benefit of all, to guide land management and conservation policies and actions, and to strengthen biodiversity and environmental protection.

Read More
Cissy Gore-Birch.

20/11/2020

Aboriginal partnerships webinar

Take a deep dive on Aboriginal Partnerships and right-way science in this 50-minute webinar with Cissy Gore-Birch.

Read More

BLOG 26/01/2020

Support for Uluru Statement

Bush Heritage Australia is proud to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart as an historic mandate to create a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood. We hear the call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution and for a referendum to amend the Constitution accordingly; and we hear the call for a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

Read More

BLOG 13/06/2019

A gathering on Badimia Country

Bush Heritage staff and Badimia Bandi Barna Aboriginal Corporation directors gathered together in the shearing shed to discuss current and planned activities on Charles Darwin Reserve, Badimia aspirations and cultural heritage site management on the reserve.

Read More

BLOG 16/04/2019

Cross-cultural awareness journeys

Recently the West team had the privilege of spending two days with Whadjuk Traditional Owners Karen Jacobs and Murray Yarran from Indigenous Economic Solutions, to undertake cross-cultural awareness training in Perth. From the importance of Welcome to Country, to Aboriginal spirituality, native title and bush foods, the team learnt about the Traditional Owners of this land and the 68,000-year history of the world's oldest living culture.

Read More

BLOG 24/12/2018

Nanda native title determination

One of the highlights of this year was attending a native title consent determination for a claim by the Nanda people. Many different Nanda families attended, and it felt significant to have everyone from elders of the community to the young children be present at this historic event. The setting was truly appropriate on the banks of the Murchison River as it flows into the Indian Ocean at Kalbarri, in the heart of Nanda country.

Read More

BLOG 19/12/2018

Historic day for Malgana people

December 4th marked a great celebration for Malgana people with the consent determination of Native Title in the Shark Bay area including Bush Heritage's Hamelin Reserve and the surrounding World Heritage Area. The Federal Court session was held on the foreshore in Denham at the request of Malgana Traditional Owners and as a sign of respect to the achievement of native title after a long 20-year legal process.

Read More

BLOG 24/08/2018

Waanyi’s living fossil

The Waanyi people of the Gulf of Carpentaria have long known of the existence of endangered Gulf Snapping Turtle, but it was unknown to science until 1986 when it was 'discovered' as a 25,000 year old fossil at Riversleigh Fossil fields of Queensland.

Read More

BLOG 26/04/2018

Back where they belong

Last Tuesday, around 30 members of the Budjiti community travelled to our Naree Reserve in New South Wales to return a collection of cultural artefacts back on country.

Read More

BLOG 24/11/2017

Let it rain – refilling a natural water tank

This experience made my week! We had rangers Vaughan Lane and Lindsey Callow, both Badimaya men from the Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program who are working in partnership with the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council and Western Mulga, out at Charles Darwin Reserve in Western Australia recently to clear out a rock hole. What happened next was just extraordinary.

Read More

BLOG 10/08/2017

Waanyi Garawa camp & survey

Bush Heritage, Waanyi and Garawa rangers, Traditional Owners and the Northern Land Council came together for a week long Biodiversity and Culture Camp on Siegel Creek, deep within the China Wall (Mindibirrina) Ranges in the Gulf Region of the Northern Territory. This was an exciting and happy week with more than 40 people coming together to strengthen culture and survey wildlife.

Read More

BLOG 03/07/2017

Connecting language back to Oura Oura

We're proud to celebrate this year's NAIDOC week with the theme 'Our Languages Matter' that highlights how important it is to keep languages alive and the vital role they have in culture, identity, spirituality and the passing on of cultural knowledge among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Read More

BUSHTRACKS 23/03/2017

Striking it rich in central Victoria

Gloved fingers point at a collection of maps lying on a 4WD bonnet. The group of Dja Dja Wurrung traditional owners and Bush Heritage staff are here to survey the Nardoo Hills reserves in central Victoria for their cultural values.

Read More

BLOG 20/06/2016

Stone axe oldest in the world

Forty nine thousand years is old by anyone's measure. The Bunuba people were proudly in the national spotlight recently when the Australian National University published its carbon dating of a Bunuba polished stone axe. The discovery pushes the development of axe technology back to between 45,000 and 49,000 years ago, coinciding with the arrival of people in Australia. The fragment is 10,000 years older than the previous oldest known axe fragments found in northern Australia in 2010.

Read More

BLOG 20/05/2016

Celebrating Rick Farley’s legacy

Last Friday marked ten years since the sad passing of Rick Farley. Farley was an environmental leader, a passionate advocate for Aboriginal land rights and management. He was the co-founder of the Landcare volunteer movement and fostered environmental partnerships between different interest groups towards a sustainable future for Australia.

Read More

BUSHTRACKS 21/12/2015

Survey success in Baby Dreaming Country

In West Arnhem Land, we are working with the Nawarddeken people whose Indigenous Protected Area covers 1.4 million hectares of natural and cultural treasures. A biodiversity survey was conducted over 10 days in Baby Dreaming Country, a significant cultural site in the northern region of the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), a full day’s drive from Darwin.

Read More

BLOG 09/07/2015

Nantawarrina 'warndu mai'

The Adnyamathanha people are the Traditional Owners of the lands extending from the far north Flinders Ranges in South Australia to Boolcoomatta Station Reserve near Broken Hill. In 1998 the Nantawarrina Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), which covers 58,000 hectares of their land, was the first indigenous protected area to be declared in the country.

Read More

BLOG 03/07/2015

Celebrating with the Budjiti People

The traditional owners of Naree Station are the Budjiti People. Their ancestral lands along the Paroo River span two states – far western NSW and over the border into Queensland. Last Tuesday was a momentous day as the Budjiti, or Paroo River People, celebrated their native title determination in Queensland over 11,000 square kilometres southwest of Cunnamulla.

Read More
Loading...
{{itemsInCart}} Items - {{formatCurrency(grandTotal)}}