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12 Sections of Land to Be Placed Under Indigenous Management

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The move aims to conserve the environment and create jobs.

Twelve new Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) will be established under the Labor government following $14.6 million (US$9.8 million) in funding.

IPAs are looked after by Indigenous Australians, who are given the role of managing nature protections and jobs.

From the Western Australian deserts to New South Wales (NSW) rainforests, the new projects combined will protect 7.5 million hectares of land and 450,000 hectares of sea country (coastal and marine areas)—bigger than the size of Tasmania.

This is on top of existing IPAs which currently cover 87 million hectares of land and more than five million hectares of sea country—the majority of Australia’s national estate.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said the program provided Indigenous Australians with jobs, while allowing them to manage the country.

​“IPAs will embed traditional knowledge and expertise in the management of the land, ensuring the voices of First Nations people are heard when it comes to decisions about protecting and caring for their traditional lands,” she said.

​“The success of the IPA program recognises the important stewardship of First Nations people in caring for country for over 65,000 years, maintaining and reviving their cultural practices, and delivering conservation outcomes for all Australians.

​“This is good for jobs, good for the environment, and it’s good for culture.”

The expanded program is part of the government’s commitment to protecting 30 percent of land by 2030 and aims to help safeguard biodiversity for species including koalas, bilbies, princess parrots, and the eastern curlew.

New IPAs managed by the Yurruungga Aboriginal Corporation and the Jagun Alliance Aboriginal Corporation in NSW will improve the trajectory of threatened species, such as the swift parrot and the regent honeyeater, and ensure the protection of cultural heritage.

​More than 700 First Nations people, including 326 First Nations women, are currently employed through the IPA program.

​The Australian government has committed $231.5 million to support the IPA program.

The new IPAs will be Mount Willoughby in South Australia; Yanyuwa Sea Country, Western Miyarrka, and the Simpson Desert in the Northern Territory; Bellinger Valley and Bringing Jagun Together in NSW; Muunthiwarra, Alka Bawa and Kalpowar, the Wadja consultation project, and Pormpuraaw Aboriginal lands and waters in Queensland; as well as Nyamal, Wudjari, and Yindjibarndi in Western Australia.

Move Follows Grant of Land Under Aboriginal Land Act

The move follows the Queensland Labor government’s recent decision to hand a 210-hectare parcel of land to an Indigenous corporation.

All but 10 hectares of the Toobeah Reserve will be transferred to the Bigambul Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (BNTAC).

BNTAC plans to use the land for ecological management and eco-tourism, but locals have expressed concerns about the future use of the land and what it might mean for other regions.

According to the government, there are 15 areas in Queensland currently under consideration for freehold transfer under the Aboriginal Land Act (ALA), including Eurong and Happy Valley on K’gari, formerly known as Fraser Island.

The ALA functions differently to Native—while Native Title provides the use of land under traditional laws and customs, the ALA is an actual grant of land.

The Kabi Kabi Indigenous group was granted a Native Title claim over parcels of land from near Childers as far as Bribie Island.

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