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Sunshine at the end of the tunnel

Kabi Kabi Traditional Owners, through the Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation, have been making their case for Indigenous ranger funding under the federal Caring for Country program. Like all ranger groups, they want to see federal funding increased and extended, so they can start to operate with the certainty required to face the task in front of them.

Kerry_Jones_Kabi_Kabi_Traditional_Owner_-_Water_mouse_monitoing_-_Maroochy_Estuary.jpgWater mouse monitoring in the Maroochy Estuary

The Country Needs People alliance has spent the last year telling the federal government there has never been a better time to invest in the work of Indigenous Rangers. For existing ranger groups, an increase and extension of funding well into the future would provide the certainty they need to embark on bigger and better projects that deliver real social, cultural and environmental value.

However, there is another group for whom federal funding would prove invaluable. These are Indigenous ranger programs that formed too late or missed out on the last round of funding. Groups like the Ngadju in the Great Western Woodlands of WA. Or the Kabi Kabi Traditional Owners of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

The Kabi Kabi’s determination to protect the local landscape and their traditional practices are set against the looming threat of urban encroachment in this fast growing region.

Kabi Kabi Traditional Owners, through the Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation, have been making their case for Indigenous ranger funding under the federal Caring for Country program. Like all ranger groups, they want to see federal funding increased and extended, so they can start to operate with the certainty required to face the task in front of them.

And it is a mammoth task. The Sunshine Coast lies just 100 kilometres north of Brisbane and is home to some of the state’s most beautiful and iconic landscapes.

For the past decade, the Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation has been successful in getting short to medium-term natural resource management and biodiversity conservation projects. They were instrumental in establishing, and now operate, the Maroochy Estuary Mangrove Nursery. They were among the winners in the 2012 NAIDOC Caring for Country Awards.

They are engaged in part-time enterprises to generate income, and are looking to work with their local council to help maintain and manage its extensive parkland estate.   However, secure federal funding would enable them to build capacity and create opportunities.

They are also undertaking a vital cultural function. There are more than 500 Aboriginal traditional sites on the Sunshine Coast in need of recording and maintaining. These sites are at risk of disappearing under the wheels of development. Over the past 12 months, the BBCAC has recorded 50 of these precious sites, which will prove invaluable in mapping the area’s cultural significance.

The areas traditional owners are also at the forefront of Indigenous-based tourism enterprises, and receive weekly requests to host cultural heritage workshops, and tours and talks about the traditional way of life, and about local native flora and fauna. The area is a hotspot for tourists, retirees, professionals and schoolchildren wanting a deeper understanding of the region’s cultural and natural heritage; a service the traditional owners are perfectly placed to deliver.