The Great Barrier Reef Foundation extends its deepest respect and recognition to all Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef and its Catchments as First Nations Peoples holding the hopes, dreams, traditions and cultures of the Reef.

#Traditional Owner Reef Protection

Traditional Owners have economic, social and cultural well-being that results in sustainable healthy people and the management of the Reef for the benefit of the nation. The purpose of this program is to improve the engagement of Traditional Owners in the protection of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

In undertaking work with Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef, the Reef Trust Partnership has committed to a new era of partnership that will genuinely strive to implement a culturally safe and appropriate process of co-design and co-delivery. This will set a new standard for co-design with the Reef’s First Nation Peoples through developing an integrated portfolio of Traditional Owner-led Reef protection projects. This work will be done with expert guidance from our New Zealand neighbours who are at the cutting edge of social innovation in co-design for eco-centric systems with local Iwi (people/nation/tribe). Traditional Owners have requested this type of partnership and relationship from their key partners when sharing the management of their traditional land and sea country estates. 

Through mentorship, guidance and actioning, the Partnership will build organisational capacity for more effective co-design within the Reef space. As the largest co-design program of its type in Australia we also have the opportunity to create a model for application in other environmental management contexts which involve partnerships between Traditional Owners, government and other groups.  

A foundational feature of the Reef Trust Partnership funding is to establish a Traditional Owner funding facility (Futures Fund) that will offer independent resourcing and long-term support for a Reef-wide Sea Country Alliance and engagement framework. This is a critical activity for enhancing localised governance capacity and provides a platform for building strong partnerships and equitable and effective Traditional Owner influence in the co-design of Reef policy and program measures. Through leveraging the Futures Fund, Traditional Owners will be better positioned to either establish, or inform on, the stable delivery of programs that are fit for purpose and support environmental, social, cultural and economic aspirations.   

As we explore the models and operational features of a Traditional Owner Futures Fund the Reef Trust Partnership program will work with Traditional Owners to identify and support the required competency and capacity in areas that are priorities for Reef management and protection and that represent emerging Traditional Owner business enterprise and industry: Water Quality, Crown-of-Thorns Starfish Control, Reef Restoration and Adaptation Science, and Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Components. 

Meet the advisory group

#Focus areas


Land and Sea country-based planning support


Land and Sea country-based implementation support


Supporting Indigenous junior ranger programs


#Projects

Wuthathi Rangers Caring for Land and Sea

Wuthathi Rangers Caring for Land and Sea

Location: Shelburn Bay & Lockhart River

The Wuthathi Rangers Caring for Land and Sea Project will enhance the provision of ranger services to the Shelburn Bay and Lockhart River area. Traditional Owners have worked with researchers to demonstrate that Shelburn Bay is a unique landscape of high ecological and cultural importance, and rangers will work closely with Wuthathi Traditional Owners to manage their land and sea.

Gidarjil Cadet and Junior Ranger Program – PCCC Future Makers

Gidarjil Cadet and Junior Ranger Program – PCCC Future Makers

Traditional Owner Groups: Byelee; Gurang; Goreng Goreng and Tarebilang Bunda
Location: Port Curtis Coral Coast (Bundaberg and Gladstone)

The Gidarjil Cadet and Junior Ranger Program will establish a “Cadet” Ranger Program aimed at junior secondary school students that have graduated from the established Junior Ranger Program. Cadets will collaborate with Indigenous rangers from the Gidarjil Caring for Country (CFC) and Land & Sea Rangers (BLSR) on key environmental activities carried out during three and five-day camps. The project aims for collaborative management and monitoring by “cadet rangers” of sea-grass meadows, salt-marshes, fox predation of turtle nests, burns of coastal vegetation and acquisition of traditional knowledge through cultural immersion camps between Rodd’s Peninsula and Baffle Creek.

Mandubarra Junior Ranger Project

Mandubarra Junior Ranger Project

Location: Mandubarra Sea Country - South of the Mourilyan Harbour to Maria Creek

The Mandubarra Junior Ranger Project will establish a strategy and protocols for who, how, when and why cultural knowledge is shared. Through the development of educational tools and delivery of camps and other events, Mandubarra elders will share traditional wisdom and culture, transferring knowledge to young Traditional Owners and increasing awareness and respect of Mandubarra culture amongst the wider community.

Jabalbina Daintree Coast, Reef and Islands Management Plan

Jabalbina Daintree Coast, Reef and Islands Management Plan

Traditional Owner Group: Eastern Kuku Yalanji
Location: Eastern Kuku Yalanji country runs along the East Coast of Far North Queensland and it includes land and sea between Port Douglas and just south of Cooktown.

This project will develop governance arrangements, management protocols and strategies to close gaps in effective management of Jabalbina Sea Country. As healthy sea country underpins livelihoods in land and sea management and tourism industries, the plan will also create a framework to create further employment and business opportunities for local communities.

Belbendimin Wulgun Djau (Caring for Sea Country): building the resilience of coral and oyster reefs.

Belbendimin Wulgun Djau (Caring for Sea Country): building the resilience of coral and oyster reefs.

Traditional Owner Groups: Byellee, Gurang, Goreng Goreng and Tarebilang Bunda
Location: Mackay/Capricorn. The sea country includes all coastal areas between Balaclava Island and Burrum Heads, including Lady Elliot and North West Islands

This project aligns with the vision and objectives of the PCCC Sea Country Management Plan 2019–2025 and addresses the priorities of the PCCC TUMRA (Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement) which describes how Traditional Owners manage their sea resources within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The project will address the major knowledge gaps that exist regarding in-shore coral reefs, oyster reefs and water quality in the southern GBR.

Girringun Junior Ranger Camp

Girringun Junior Ranger Camp

Traditional Owner Groups: Bandjin, Djiru, Girramay, Gugu Badhun, Gulngay, Jirrbal, Nyawigi, Warrgamay and Warungnu
Location: The flood plains and coastal areas between North Maria Creek near Mission Beach to Rollingstone in the south, including offshore islands and waters within this region.

The Girringun Junior Ranger Camp will bring together Elders and rangers to share cultural knowledge of Girringun Sea Country to young people across the nine Traditional Owner groups that Girringun Aboriginal Corporation represents. This project presents an opportunity to maintain and preserve cultural practices, and way of life, in a way that meaningfully engages young people and strengthens their traditional knowledge and sense of belonging to community.

YBM Annan River and coast line critical values and habitats: healthy waters for our people

YBM Annan River and coast line critical values and habitats: healthy waters for our people

Location: Archer Point and surrounding rivers and streams

This project is about establishing long-term monitoring programs which collect scientific and critical cultural information across many different areas including water quality, fish communities, mangroves, key cultural species and impacts such as pollution, plastics and marine debris on Yuku Baja Muliku Country. This will facilitate formal opportunities for Traditional Owners, scientists and NRM managers to work together to collect and record data and for everyone to look at data analysis together so that YBM Traditional Owners can make informed decisions about how to best look after their Country.

Wuthathi Caring and Connecting with Land & Culture

Wuthathi Caring and Connecting with Land & Culture

Location: Cape York - Shelburn Bay

This project will establish a Junior Ranger Program that coincides with school holidays and is based on visits to Wuthathi Country adjacent to and on Shelburn Bay. The program will reconnect youth to their culture through caring for their land using traditional and scientific approaches and on-going mentoring that will equip participants to be future leaders.

Yirrganydji Junior Ranger Program – Empowering Today’s Generation for Tomorrow’s Future

Yirrganydji Junior Ranger Program – Empowering Today’s Generation for Tomorrow’s Future

Traditional Owner Group: Yirrganydji
Location: Coastal region between Cairns and Port Douglas including wetlands of national significance.

The Yirraganyji Junior Ranger Program will improve general understanding and highlight any pressures impacting Yirrganydji Country, as well as encourage behaviour change while providing an engaging way for local children (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) to learn about looking after Country today and into the future. The program will be developed in partnership with schools in the Cairns and Port Douglas area, complementing the Australian STEM curriculum with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, embedding the culture and knowledge of Yirrganydji people within environmental education programs.

Girringun Maritime Project

Girringun Maritime Project

Traditional Owner Groups Represented: Banjin, Djuru, Girramay, Gulnay, Nywaigi and Warrgamay
Location: The flood plains and coastal areas between North Maria Creek near Mission Beach to the north and Rollingstone to the south, as well as all offshore islands and waters within this region of northern Queensland.

This project will provide support for rangers to undertake training with an Indigenous Maritime Training Company to obtain formal maritime qualifications in Deckhand and Coxswains certificates. These qualifications will enhance the ability of rangers to look after their vast areas of sea country.

Yuku-Baja-Muliku Junior Ranger Project

Yuku-Baja-Muliku Junior Ranger Project

Traditional Owner Group Represented: Yuku Baja Muliku
Location: Archer Point

A full-time Junior ranger co-ordinator will be funded to operate and expand the existing successful program that is currently run in Cooktown. The YBM Junior Ranger Program runs weekly after school and has been supported and run by YBM Indigenous rangers in the past. With a dedicated project officer in place, the program can be expanded, and many more environmental and cultural extension activities can be designed and delivered. In addition to the junior ranger program, the coordinator will be able to drive the establishment of the YBM Cadet Ranger Program for high school aged students.

Dabu Jajikal Land and Sea Country Planning Project

Dabu Jajikal Land and Sea Country Planning Project

Traditional Owner Group: Dabu Jajikal Aboriginal Corp
Location: Emmagen Creek to Obree Point and out to Hope Island. Country extends out to Bloomfield River/ Lilly Creek and Imagen Creek. Areas to be included in the plan are Cedar Bay; Weary Bay; Bloomfield River and Cape Tribulation.

Development of a sea country plan by Traditional Owners in partnership with other stakeholders. The sea country plan will be developed through a series of on-country meetings and workshops and will culminate in the production of a plan in the form of a book, video and audio recordings. Future workshops will also be planned to ensure commitments made during the initial phases are acted on.

Juru Land and Sea Country Planning Project

Juru Land and Sea Country Planning Project

Traditional Owner Group: Juru People
Location: From the Burdekin River to south of Bowen

The Juru people want to protect all heritage areas whilst maintaining, developing and strengthening the culture and heritage values and Lores of the Juru peoples. A management plan will be created by identifying, collating and reviewing existing information, reports, data and knowledge of heritage areas within the project site. This will be the foundation for Traditional Owners to develop and sustain strong partnerships with Government and NGOs to protect Country and the marine estate. The project will provide a platform for Traditional Owners to discuss and document their aspirations for management of their Country.

Goondoi Junior Rangers Program

Goondoi Junior Rangers Program

Traditional Owner Group: Dyirrabarra & Bagirgabara
Location: The sea area takes in the northern point of Ella Bay National Park and extends south to Mourilyan Harbour.

The Goondoi Junior Rangers Program will provide opportunities for elders to spend time with young ones to pass on cultural knowledge about their country. This will be done through school-based activities and camps.

Implementing Yirrganydji Sea Country Plan - Empowering Today’s Generation for Tomorrow’s Future

Implementing Yirrganydji Sea Country Plan - Empowering Today’s Generation for Tomorrow’s Future

Traditional Owner Group: Yirrganydji
Location: Coastal region between Cairns and Port Douglas including wetlands of national significance.

This project will take the next step in Yirrganydji’s management journey and establish a clear pathway for the future management of the ecological and cultural values and aspirations set out in their community endorsed Sea Country Plan. This includes activities such as: establishing a Yirrganydji ‘Keeping Place’ to preserve, protect, and promote traditional knowledge, developing a Yirrganydji cultural heritage policy, and a cultural landscape atlas that maps bio-cultural values and knowledge.

Wulgurukaba Land & Sea Country Renewal and Planning

Wulgurukaba Land & Sea Country Renewal and Planning

Traditional Owner Group: Wulgurukaba
Location: Ross River to Rollingstone. This includes Townsville, Magnetic Island and surrounds.

The project supports the Wulgurukaba Traditional Owners to revisit their existing Sea Country Plan in order to address gaps and establish baselines relating to resources. The area of sea country for which the plan is being renewed is the subject of significant development pressure making an updated Sea Country Plan important for the management of the area.

Cape York GBR Sea Country Management Plan

Cape York GBR Sea Country Management Plan

Traditional Owner Group Represented: Gudang & Yadhaykenu Clans
Location: Northern Cape York Peninsula - Captain Billy Landing to North of Mt Adolphus Island at the tip of Cape York. East past the Great Barrier Reef. Inclusive of the Denham Islands.

A country-based plan will be developed by the two Traditional Owner clans with cultural authority for the Northern Peninsular Area of Cape York, Great Barrier Reef. This project will greatly assist the Traditional Owners to develop a coordinated approach to the management of their sea country areas and to apply community authorised strategies that look to address natural resource management and sustainable use.

Healthy Country Planning for Normanby Station

Healthy Country Planning for Normanby Station

Traditional Owner Group: Balnggarrawarra
Location: Normanby Station, North east from Cooktown in the Southern Cape York Region.

Normanby Station is situated in the heart of the fourth largest Great Barrier Reef river catchment. This project will see a Country plan created that will guide future land management practices, stakeholder investment and business enterprises whilst ensuring compatibility with customary obligations. This project links cultural values and natural values.


#News

Reef Trust Partnership: Reef protection through Traditional Owners

Media Release ·

Reef Trust Partnership: Reef protection through Traditional Owners

Reef protection through Traditional Owners


Acknowledgement of Country

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation extends its deepest respect and recognition to the Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef as First Nations Peoples holding the hopes, dreams, traditions and cultures of the Reef.