Aus state commits to 'historic' handover of parkland to indigenous owners

International |  IANS  | Published :

Canberra, July 4 (IANS) The government of the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has commenced a programme that would see management of national parkland gradually transferred to the indigenous population.

The joint management model would see the handback of national parkland, which covers nearly 1 per cent of NSW's total area, over a 15-to-20-year period, reports Xinhua news agency.

NSW Environment Minister James Griffin said that 30 per cent of the state's national parks is already under Aboriginal joint management but Aboriginal people only hold title to just over 4 per cent of national parkland.

"Expansion of the joint management model in this way would be a historic step that no other Australian jurisdiction and few other countries, if any, have taken," said Griffin.

The programme would also provide job opportunities for Aboriginal people and new business opportunities.

About 3.2 per cent of Australia's population, 812,000 people, were identified as being of Aboriginal and, or Torres Strait Islander origin in the country's most recent census data released at the beginning of the month.

Indigenous Australians experience lower levels of employment, shorter life expectancies, and reduced access to education compared to their non-indigenous counterparts.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister of NSW Ben Franklin said the state government would be seeking input from Aboriginal people on how to make joint management arrangements work best for them while also giving them pathways to employment.

"Developing a new model for joint management is one way to make meaningful progress on improving outcomes for Aboriginal people and communities in New South Wales," said Franklin.

While giving Aboriginal Australians new opportunities to engage with the land, the programme would also bring new knowledge into the conservation of bushland in the state.

"This is about reconnecting people to country, aligning with native title processes and integrating Aboriginal knowledge in caring for country in the way they've been doing for tens of thousands of years," added Franklin.

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