Booderee National Park one step closer to sole Indigenous management

Posted December 17, 2016 08:15:16

Booderee National Park, on the New South Wales South Coast, is one step closer to sole Indigenous management with the appointment of an Aboriginal woman as park manager.

In a first for Parks Australia, the role was specifically designated for an Indigenous employee to enable the transition to sole Indigenous management.

Gumbaynggir woman, Maxine Walker, hopes to leverage the knowledge of traditional owners to conserve and protect the area.

"It's about incorporating both the cultural knowledge, say with fire, as well as the scientific," Ms Walker said.

"When you collaborate ... that's when you really get the best outcome in what can happen on the ground."

Booderee National Park is owned by the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community and is leased to Parks Australia.

At the moment it is managed by both the traditional land owners and Parks Australia, but the Australian Government has committed to handing management back to the Wreck Bay community.

"The majority of the staff here are actually traditional owners ... at the end of the day, each and every individual I'm quite inspired by," Ms Walker said.

Ms Walker joins the park after nearly two decades with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, most recently negotiating Indigenous land use agreements.

She said a key part of her role would be ensuring traditional owners had access to land and water resources.

"It's essential to our wellbeing, whether it be from our health, mental, as well as our spiritual point of view," Ms Walker said.

"I think [this] is about providing further opportunities along those lines for the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community generally."

The director of National Parks, Sally Barnes, said Ms Walker would play an important role in the transition and wider protection of the park.

"This ... recognises the natural and cultural knowledge of Indigenous land managers in conserving our most cherished parks and their history," she said.

"Her extensive experience as an Indigenous leader and land manager will be important in moving to sole Indigenous management."

Topics:indigenous-culture, indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander, land-rights, jervis-bay-2540, act

Read more http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-17/indigenous-woman-heads-up-jervis-bay-booderee-national-park/8128350