Working together to protect cultural heritage

On the eve of National Close the Gap Day, Landcarers from across Gippsland are preparing to get together with Traditional Owner groups to learn more about protecting cultural heritage. 

WGCMA’s Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Officer, Mandy Leggett, said the organisation’s cultural heritage training in partnership with Traditional Owners was a key part of the annual training calendar. 

“We’re extremely proud to work with staff from the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation and Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation to deliver cultural heritage training to our staff, board members and community engagement network,” explained Mandy. 

“This year, we will be getting Landcarers from across Gippsland together for Close the Gap day with each of our Traditional Owner groups. 

“As part of the day we will be handing out cultural heritage packs for Landcare groups. These packs will help Landcare groups work out what to do to help protect cultural heritage, before, during and after their projects.” 

Cultural Hub Manager at GLaWAC, Grattan Mullet Senior explains that cultural heritage refers to the knowledge and lore, practices and people, objects and places that are valued, culturally and are connected to identity and Country. 

“Our Cultural Heritage is about our people, places and stories that connect us spiritually to country and gives us our identity.  

“Cultural Heritage is the foundation of who we are and where we come from, and it’s important to foster that knowledge and understanding to the broader community for greater respect and recognition of First Nations people. “said Grattan. 

Dan Turnbull CEO of BLCAC, said staff from his organisation always looked forward to getting out on Country for the Close the Gap Day events. 

“It’s an opportunity for us to reach people that manage land, who have had little or no direct engagement with The Bunurong or any Traditional Owners. It is important that grass roots groups like these have the information they need to do the great work they do, without impacting Aboriginal Cultural Heritage unnecessarily” 

This year’s Close the Gap Day theme is ‘Our Health. Our Voice. Our Choice’. It highlights the widening gap between health outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.  

Stories profiled in the Our Choices, Our Voices report demonstrate that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are involved in the design of the services they need, they are far more likely to achieve success.  

The report urges government and organisations to take advantage of the leadership, expertise, guidance and networks of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and organisations. 

“In all our work with Traditional Owner groups we aim to work in genuine partnerships,” continued Mandy. “Understanding that the Traditional Owners of the country on which we work have a deep and long-standing appreciation and connection to this country. We know we have a lot to learn from them and that work we do is better done together.” 

For more about National Close the Gap Day or to register an event go to antar.org.au/campaigns/national-close-gap-day. 

These events are supported by West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the Victorian Landcare Program.  

Published Tuesday March 3rd 2020

GLaWAC and WGCMA staff members on country