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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Environment and Resource Management
    The Honourable Kate Jones

    New Wild Rivers initiative gives power to Indigenous Cape Communities

    Environment and Resource Management
    The Honourable Kate Jones

    Wednesday, March 09, 2011

    New Wild Rivers initiative gives power to Indigenous Cape Communities

    An Economic Development Mentor Support Network is part of package of new initiatives announced by Environment and Resource Management Minister Kate Jones today as the next plank of the Bligh Government’s Wild Rivers program, aimed at providing Indigenous communities in the Cape with greater capability to capitalise on economic opportunities.

    Ms Jones said that the new Sustainable Cape Communities will create real jobs and development opportunities in the Cape and the Gulf.

    “Our Wild Rivers legislation is about protecting the most pristine and unique rivers in our state against inappropriate development and degradation,” Ms Jones said.

    “But more than that, the legislation also enshrines Native Title rights and is framed in a way that ensures indigenous people play a key role in the ongoing protection of these areas.

    “The new Sustainable Cape Communities initiative will build on this framework, to empower indigenous communities to make the most of the economic development opportunities that come with declarations.”

    Ms Jones said the package will include: 
        • An ‘Economic Development Mentor Support Network’ where successful entrepreneurs will work with Indigenous communities to establish new businesses in Wild River areas, 
        • Capacity building for Indigenous local governments so they can process development applications in these areas more quickly and effectively, 
        • A Strategic Economic Development Plan to create real jobs in growing sectors that provide economic opportunities capitalising on the Cape’s outstanding natural values, and 
        • Indigenous Reference Committees to provide clear feedback to the Minister from Traditional Owners who speak for country in relevant declaration areas.

    Ms Jones said the government is also committing to extending Indigenous water reserves from the Cape Wild Rivers to the Gulf Wild Rivers.

    “These water entitlements are the first of their kind in Australia and will play an important role in future economic development,” Ms Jones said.

    “We want to see more local Indigenous people further benefiting from the outcomes of Wild River declarations in the Cape.

    “The Sustainable Cape Communities program will build on our successful Wild River rangers program which is currently providing 40 real jobs for Indigenous people in the Cape and Gulf.

    “We’ve committed to making current ranger positions permanent which will give rangers the financial security they need to become home owners and at the same time further support economic activity in the region.

    “The rangers are also gaining commercial training through our partnership with Australia Zoo.”

    Ms Jones said the new framework also ensures that Indigenous communities are even further involved in key decision making around Wild Rivers declarations.

    “The new Indigenous reference committees will be established to ensure members can directly advise the Minister about declaration proposals as well as their community’s aspirations for future economic development,” she said.

    “This will be a formal part of the consultation process for future declarations and as Minister I will not make any declaration without considering the advice of the committees.

    “These committees will be made up of people who are entitled to speak for country in relation to those specific wild river declarations.

    “This is the result of close engagement with Indigenous leaders about the importance of finding new and further ways to engage with local Indigenous people.

    “We want to continue to work hand in hand with Indigenous people to ensure our Wild River declarations provide the right protections for our pristine waterways, while also supporting the communities that live and work around them.

    “While the LNP and their federal counterparts continue to scaremonger and spread misinformation we will continue to get on with the job of providing real and positive opportunities for Indigenous Queenslanders through our landmark Wild Rivers legislation.”

    Media Contact: 3239 0818