This week is NAIDOC week (5-12th July), a time to celebrate and acknowledge the culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Here in the Canberra office, we are proud to have been part of some fantastic projects working with the Indigenous communities in our region over the past few years.
Back in 2006 we were involved in the ‘Seeds for Survival’ project, part of the ‘On Track’ project run by a group of Aboriginal mentors, ACT Parks staff and Greening Australia. The program aimed to engage Indigenous youth of primary school age in hands-on activities such as seed collecting and identifying local bush food plant species – and to help them reconnect with some of the traditional knowledge of their ancestors.
In 2011 the ACT Natural Resource Management Council started the ‘Yurung Dhaura Aboriginal Land Management Team’ to provide young Indigenous people with training in conservation and land management.
Once a fortnight the team were engaged by Greening Australia to assist with nursery and revegetation work, and learn specialised skills such as seed collecting, propagating, weed control, river restoration and monitoring. The team have gone on to win several awards, and in 2012 one of the trainees joined Greening Australia as the Indigenous Officer. That trainee was me.
Since I joined Greening Australia in 2012 I have engaged the local indigenous community in a range of natural resource management projects, including planting bush tucker gardens at schools, community planting events, producing a Ngunnawal plant use guide, and working with Aboriginal inmates to provide training in conservation and land management.
One of the major projects I’ve been working on is the ‘Village Nursery’ program, which aims to engage Indigenous and at-risk students in learning nursery and cultural skills. Four groups of 6-8 students aged between 7 and 18 years have been involved with the project so far, and have taken part in a range of activities.
With funding and support from the ACT Government, we have also been working with Auswide projects to deliver cultural heritage and conservation land management training to Aboriginal inmates at the Alexander Maconochie prison and remand centre.
The participants will receive a certificate II in conservation and land management once they successfully complete the course, and in 2015 we plan to make the program available for indigenous youth at the Bimberi justice centre.
Bush tucker garden
Adam first started working with Greening Australia as a trainee in the Yurung Dhaura Aboriginal Land Management Team, and then in October 2012 was offered the position as Indigenous officer. Adam is the son of a Welsh mother and a Wiradjuri father from central-west NSW, but was born and raised in Canberra.
You might have seen Adam recently in the good food magazine, talking about the bush tucker showcase garden he built at our Canberra nursery. The garden was planted by Indigenous students from our ‘Village nursery’ program, and students from the Aboriginal Corporation for Sporting and Recreational Activities and Wanniassa achievement centre painted the Aboriginal artwork on the garden bed and provided art for the official sign.
Adam’s fantastic work with Indigenous communities earned him the ACT NAIDOC 2014 Caring for Country award, and he was also nominated in the same category as well as for a training and excellence award in 2013. He also received an ACT and National Landcare award in 2013 as part of the Yurung Dhaura group.