Return to Country bodes well for communities
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.