Go­ing home made eas­ier

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - PAUL MIL­TON BUT­LER

JA­BAL­BINA Yalanji Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion is lead­ing the way in help­ing in­dige­nous peo­ple “get back to their coun­try” as part of an in­no­va­tive new project.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion’s plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment co-or­di­na­tor Rowan Shee said one of the big­gest hur­dles for in­dige­nous peo­ple want­ing to build their own homes can be na­tive ti­tle.

“A lot of peo­ple who live in the Moss­man and Port Dou­glas re­gion would like to ’go back to their coun­try’ be­cause they do not feel they be­long here but it is very dif­fi­cult for them to re­turn,” Mr Shee said.

“In many cases if an in­dige­nous per­son wants to re­turn to coun­try and to build a home they must, un­der na­tive ti­tle, seek out all of the peo­ple who are tra­di­tional own­ers of that land to get per­mis­sion to build and there could be hun­dreds, even thou­sands of peo­ple to ask and so it be­comes an al­most im­pos­si­ble task.”

And it’s not just build­ing homes, it can af­fect a range of busi­ness plans too, Mr Shee said.

“There are a num­ber of in­dige­nous peo­ple who would like to start cat­tle graz­ing op­er­a­tions or even sus­tain­able tim­ber farm­ing but the amount of gov­ern­ment red tape just makes it nearly im­pos­si­ble and so it leaves a lot of peo­ple feel­ing frus­trated and an­gry be­cause they just want to get on and do things,” Mr Shee said.

“Also tourism has huge po­ten­tial for peo­ple to use their own knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing of their coun­try but this av­enue isn’t avail­able to them ei­ther.

“Host­ing vis­its from the many sci­en­tists and a myr­iad of students that come here to study all man­ner of things would be of great ben­e­fit as would build­ing a cul­tural and community cen­tre but there is so much red tape to com­ply with it just makes peo­ple very de­spon­dent and so they give up.”

But there is some light at the end of the tun­nel be­cause Mr Shee has put to­gether a plan to tackle these is­sues and a free lec­ture on the three dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives of how the plan­ning sys­tem in­flu­ences de­vel­op­ment on In­dige­nous-owned land will be pre­sented at a free pub­lic lec­ture at James Cook Univer­sity in Cairns to­day.

He will talk about the plan­ning is­sues the Eastern Yalanji peo­ple have en­coun­tered.

He is presently help­ing es­tab­lish the Eastern Kuku Yalanji In­dige­nous Pro­tected Area, work­ing on a range of land trust and na­tive ti­tle projects in­clud­ing run­ning nat­u­ral re­source man­age­ment projects and de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tions for Eastern Yalanji peo­ple mov­ing back to coun­try.

Mean­while, the chair­man of Ja­bal­bina, Robyn Bel­lafquih, said she was an­tic­i­pat­ing that the plan­ning process would be less en­cum­bered and Eastern Kuku Yalanji peo­ple could more eas­ily get back to liv­ing sus­tain­ably on their tra­di­tional es­tates.

“It has been 18 years of hard work and the re­al­ity is that still less than a hand­ful of our peo­ple have their own homes or busi­nesses on coun­try,” Ms Bel­lafquih said.

“We have pro­duced community de­vel­op­ment plans in­clud­ing In­dige­nous Land Use Agree­ments (ILUAs) con­di­tions with agen­cies and coun­cils and are now tack­ling the red tape of the plan­ning pro­cesses.”

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