Caring for Country in a changing climate

ADAPT Loddon Mallee respects that First Nations’ people have ongoing cultural obligations to their Country. We commit to enabling self-determination for First Nations’ people and recognise their inherent rights and obligations to care for and heal Country, as their ancestors have done for millennia.

First Nations’ communities have been effectively managing the lands and waters, and adapting to natural climate changes, for thousands of generations. Since European invasion and colonisation, the Western approach to natural resources management has been the dominant one.

The high spiritual and cultural toll of colonisation is like to be further exacerbated by man-made climate change through the further destruction of cultural sites (for example, as a result of increased bushfires), the disappearance of spiritually important species (such as totem animals), and of plants and animals used for traditional food, medicine and other cultural practices.

First Nations’ people may also be experience disproportionally high physical heath impacts due to the increase in heatwaves, emergency events, and poor air and water quality.

With so much at stake, it is vital that we invest in the capacity of local First Nations’ people to care for and heal Country in a changing climate. Our region is fortunate to have the largest population of First Nations’ people in Victoria, with thousands of significant cultural sites. With their deep intergenerational knowledge and ongoing connection to Country Aboriginal knowledge has already been critical in supporting climate adaptation actions, particularly in the natural resource management area, such as cultural burning for bushfire risk reduction. We need to provide further authorship to Traditional Owner groups and First Nations’ people living in the region to identify and implement their own responses to climate change. There are also many opportunities to learn from and enable the application of traditional ways of working on Country, while respecting Aboriginal ownership of that knowledge. The groundwork for how we might best approach this is integrated through this plan.

Below is a summary of objectives and priority actions in the Climate Ready Plan that support caring for and healing Country in a changing climate.

Healing Country in a changing climate

Objective

Aboriginal communities, culture and cultural practices are respected and valued

Actions

• Consider traditional knowledge at all levels of decision making

• Consider and appropriately incorporate all climate polices developed by Traditional Owners into the Climate Ready Plan as they are developed and become available

• Support learning opportunities for young people and new migrant communities with First Nations’ peoples

Objective

Build resilience of local food systems

Action

• Support First Nations’ led bush food projects

Objective

Recognise and value the collectively held knowledge of First Nations’ peoples as a foundation for caring for and healing Country

Actions

• Engage First Nations’ peoples in climate dialogues and decision-making forums

• Support Traditional Owners to plan for Climate Change through country plans

Objective

Support innovation in land management and reintroduce Aboriginal land management practices

Action

• Enable Traditional Owners to lead healing Country practices on both private and public land

Objective

Work with First Nations’ people living in the region to protect places of cultural significance and practice

Actions

• Establish First Nations’ operated seedbanks and nurseries for revegetation of Country

• Establish programs that enable First Nations’ people to increase understanding of future climate change impacts on Country and identify culturally appropriate adaptation measures

Objective

Increase water security and drought management

Action

• Ensure adequate and equitable water rights that meet the social, cultural, spiritual, economic and environmental needs of First Nations’ people

Objective

Support the development and implementation of strategies and learning opportunities

Action

• Develop partnership projects for First Nations’ people to respectfully share knowledge and create opportunities for more sustainable businesses

Objective

Remove or reduce disincentives preventing business enterprises acting on climate

Action

• Targeted funding mechanisms for First Nations’ businesses to provide carbon offset and healing Country services such as revegetation, plant nurseries or other agribusiness ventures

Objective

Secure employment in existing and emerging markets

Action

• Develop projects to increase Aboriginal employment opportunities and outcomes in new and emerging job markets

We acknowledge and respect Victorian Traditional Owners as the original custodians of Victoria’s land and waters, their unique ability to care for Country and deep spiritual connection to it. We honour Elders past and present whose knowledge and wisdom has ensured the continuation of culture and traditional practices. We are committed to enabling self-determination for all Aboriginal people and aim to work closely with the Aboriginal community to drive action and improve outcomes especially in the context of a changing climate.

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