Editor’s com­ment:

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FEEDBACK - Greg Mclean Man­ag­ing editor

IT IS un­for­tu­nate to­mor­row’s planned han­dover of 65,000 hectares to the East­ern Kuku Yalanji peo­ple has been post­poned due to record rain­falls.

But the sig­nif­i­cance of the agree­ment re­mains the same, with all stake­hold­ers hav­ing ne­go­ti­ated the out­come.

It has been al­most 18 years since the Bama (tra­di­tional own­ers) were granted na­tive ti­tle over the land and a long strug­gle to fi­nally have their en­ti­tle­ment prop­erly recog­nised.

The agree­ment will also see around 150,000ha be­tween Moss­man and Cook­town, which mostly ad­joins the Dain­tree and Ngalba Bu­lal (Cedar Bay) National Parks, de­clared as new national park.

For the Bama, the of­fi­cial han­dover when it is resched­uled will only mark the start of an­other strug­gle.

Of the Bama’s 65,000ha be­ing handed over as part of the agree­ment, only 16,500ha will be avail­able for the de­vel­op­ment of their so­cial, cul­tural and eco­nomic as­pi­ra­tions.

Ja­bal­bina Yalanji Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion CEO Fran­cis Walker is rightly con­cerned about how her peo­ple move on from here.

The vast ma­jor­ity of the land’s new cus­to­di­ans do not have the re­sources to build a home on their land or start a busi­ness.

With hundreds of mil­lions of dol­lars spent on Abo­rig­i­nal wel­fare pro­grams ev­ery year, the Fed­eral and State Gov­ern­ments now have an ideal op­por­tu­nity to sup­port the Bama in sup­port­ing them­selves.

With the help of or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Ja­bal­bina, the land’s cus­to­di­ans can for­mu­late busi­ness plans which are sus­tain­able once cap­i­tal has been pro­vided.

While some may view this as an­other un­nec­es­sary hand­out, it could ac­tu­ally trig­ger a re­ver­sal of for­tune for a proud peo­ple who have been mired in dis­ad­van­tage for gen­er­a­tions.

The po­ten­tial for tra­di­tional cus­to­di­ans to es­tab­lish tourism ven­tures which at­tract cashed-up tourists keen for an authen­tic in­dige­nous ex­pe­ri­ence is cer­tainly there.

Tourism Queens­land has iden­ti­fied in­dige­nous tourism as one sec­tor with plenty of growth and the Dou­glas re­gion al­ready boasts some of the best cul­tural tours in the coun­try - but there is al­ways room for more.

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