News

Traditional Owners graduate from conservation course

Six Indigenous Victorians received their Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management last month as part of a training program aimed at supporting Traditional Owners to strengthen their cultural knowledge and increase their work in natural resource management.

placeholder

Traditional Owners graduate from conservation course

Six Indigenous Victorians received their Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management last month as part of a training program aimed at supporting Traditional Owners to strengthen their cultural knowledge and increase their work in natural resource management.

The program was developed by the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority and Trust for Nature in response to feedback from Traditional Owners.

A key aspiration for Indigenous organisations in the Port Phillip and Western Port region is to expand their work on Country and increase the number of Traditional Owners and other Indigenous people employed in land management.

The course has involved members of the Wurundjeri Corporations Narrap Team (land management), employees of Westernport Water and Bass Coast Landcare Network, as well as the Bunurong Land Council.

The course was developed in partnership with the Holmesglen Institute and involved field-based assessments where students worked with 10 landholders on the Mornington Peninsula who have Trust for Nature conservation covenants.

The properties cover a total of 100 hectares and are important habitat for a number of threatened species of plants and animals including Leafy Greenhood, Common Dunnart, Swamp Skink, Powerful Owl, Australasian Bittern and communities such as Swamp Scrub and Coastal Moonah Woodland.

Trust for Nature’s Ben Cullen said the training was enriching for everyone involved.

He said, “Right from the beginning it became clear that the course was going to involve two-way learning - participants were able to learn about land management while also teaching us about cultural practices and knowledge.”

Wurundjeri Corporation’s Sean Hunter said, “As an organisation, we are 100% committed to building the capacity of our people. The team is rightfully proud of their achievement as is the broader Wurundjeri community. Next year, with the support of our partners, we plan to have team members enrolled in both the Cert III and IV.”

Port Phillip & Westernport CMA’s Environmental Projects Coordinator, Kacie Melfi, said the program was beneficial because it got everyone, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, involved.

She said, “Many Traditional Owners in the Port Phillip and Western Port region are passionate about conservation and this course provided them with a wide range practical skills and on-ground experience.”

The project was funded by the Victorian Government though the Biodiversity On-Ground Action grants program.

Main photo: Back row: Caleb Kilgour (Bass Coast Landcare Network), James McFadyen (Narrap Team), Uncle Bill [William] Nicholson (Wurundjeri Council). Bottom from left: Samuel Weston (Westernport Water), Will [William] Nicholson (Narrap Team), Damien Nicholson (Narrap Team).