Re­turn to Coun­try bodes well for com­mu­ni­ties

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

IN­DIGE­NOUS com­mu­ni­ties in Dou­glas Shire re­ceive a hefty nod in the draft plan­ning scheme, with a Re­turn to Coun­try Lo­cal Plan de­voted to en­sur­ing they can ben­e­fit eco­nom­i­cally.

Mayor Ju­lia Leu said that plan­ning schemes “gen­er­ally don’t in­clude ini­tia­tives such as the Re­turn to Coun­try Code,” with the draft scheme in­clud­ing de­tails that are rare for Aus­tralia.

“An ex­am­ple of the Re­turn To Coun­try Code be­ing im­ple­mented is China Camp where the Bu­rungu Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion oc­cu­pies some 5,500 hectares of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji coun­try. Cur­rently less than 20 peo­ple live there and while it is a small com­mu­nity, it has big ideas and ul­ti­mately the res­i­dents would like to see China Camp re­set­tled.

“They would like to at­tract mem­bers of their clan back to live on coun­try. To do this, they need to be able to of­fer a range of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“The Re­turn to Coun­try Lo­cal Plans lay out the frame­work for this to oc­cur and by talk­ing to tra­di­tional own­ers, the Lo­cal Plans will be for­mu­lated. Ele­ments which may be in­cluded in the Lo­cal Plans is the abil­ity to set up ranger camps, to do food pro­duc­tion, or to have out sta­tions for com­mu­nal liv­ing.”

The Re­turn to Coun­try Lo­cal Plan rep­re­sents an on­go­ing com­mit­ment to con­tin­ual com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween Dou­glas Shire and the in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, with Ms Leu and coun­cil of­fi­cers meet­ing with clan groups later this month.

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