Uncle Bill Walker and Prof Bill Boyd at an Aboriginal sites awareness training course for planners and land managers on the Northern Rivers.
Uncle Bill Walker and Prof Bill Boyd at an Aboriginal sites awareness training course for planners and land managers on the Northern Rivers.

Respect for Aboriginal sites

ABORIGINAL sites of importance and cultural significance have had their profile raised through a series of workshops aimed at environmental planners and land managers working on the Northern Rivers.

The workshops were run by Professor Bill Boyd and David Lloyd, lecturers at the Southern Cross University School of Environmental Science and Management, in conjunction with Bundjalung elder Bill Walker and project officer Kristin Den Exter, on behalf of the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority (NRCMA).

“There are two reasons that it has become important to raise the awareness of the importance of Aboriginal places,” Prof Boyd explained. “Firstly, there are legal obligations in regards to development applications to take Aboriginal sites into account.

“Secondly, there is a moral obligation to pay attention to places with cultural significance.”

Prof Boyd believed that despite the legal requirements in place to respect Aboriginal sites of importance, many planners and land managers are still relatively unaware of their obligations.

“By building awareness we can improve the role environmental planners play in protecting and respecting Aboriginal places.

“We don’t want them to just feel obligated, but to trulyunderstand the significance when making decisions.”

Workshop participantsexplored aspects of their own personal cultural heritage and were able to draw parallels with their own non-Aboriginal experience and that of Aboriginal communities.

They were also assisted in developing their awareness by Uncle Bill Walker, whodescribed Aboriginal perspectives on environmental management on the Northern Rivers.

“We have finished this round of courses,” Prof Boyd said. “But I’d like to suggest more workshops to the NRCMA for those who can’t attend the courses so they can be done online.”



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