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Environment portfolio celebrates NAIDOC Week.

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Media Release The Hon Dr Sharman Stone Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Federal Member for Murray

7 July 2003

Environment Portfolio Celebrates NAIDOC Week

Goats, donkeys, rabbits, camels and other feral species have pushed many native species to the brink over the last 100 years.

Indigenous communities who have volunteered to have their properties involved in the National Reserve System are now showing their neighbours just how to bring back country that has been in under siege from feral animals and weeds for generations.

Biodiversity protection is amongst the top priorities for the Indigenous protected areas who are amongst those celebrating NAIDOC Week.

Indigenous Australians have a central role to play in protecting the environment for future generations, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone, said today.

Launching the Environment and Heritage portfolio's celebrations for National Aboriginal Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week, Dr Stone said Environment Australia's NAIDOC Program is promoting awareness of Indigenous land management programs and cultural heritage - cross-cultural workshops and Indigenous performances and displays to reflect this year's national theme "Our Children Our Future".

"From the joint management of Uluru Kata Tjuta, Kakadu and Booderee National Parks to the establishment of Indigenous Protected Areas, the Environment portfolio aims to ensure that Indigenous land management expertise benefits the entire community, and that we can all learn from it," Dr Stone said.

"Recognition and acceptance has been growing throughout Australia in the past decade that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) peoples have particular rights and obligations in relation to their heritage.

"The Department of the Environment and Heritage is committed to managing important linkages with the Indigenous community in the protection of Australia's natural and cultural heritage," Dr Stone said. The Department is implementing its approach to working with the Indigenous community through their engagement in the Natural Heritage Trust as well as other initiatives

and services dealing with Indigenous issues across the portfolio."

Programs that recognise the importance of Indigenous engagement in natural resource management include:

● A network of 13 Indigenous Land Management Facilitators around Australia to assist and

encourage Indigenous communities to participate in Natural Heritage Trust and National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality Program on land under their care, or in which they have an interest.

● The Indigenous Protected Areas (IPA) program, part of Australia's National Reserve

System aims to establish a network of protected areas, including a representative sample of all types of ecosystems across the country. There are currently 17 declared IPA's, which total approximately 20% of the entire National Reserve System.

● The Department of the Environment and Heritage is actively involved in responding to the

Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Framework to advance Indigenous Reconciliation. This involves 10 or so indigenous communities around Australia being the focus of streamlined and better coordinated Federal programs. EA is leading the ACT project.

Contact: Andrew Cox (Dr Stone's office) - 0408 057 226