Stuart Cowell

Stuart Cowell


Arabana people initiate plans for future direction

After recognition of Native Title over their country, and the return of a significant pastoral lease, the Arabana people wanted to develop a plan to guide their next steps.

Arabana country is part of the central salt lakes and springs, Kati Thanda (Lake Eyre), region in South Australia. In addition to its deep cultural significance to the Arabana people Kati Thanda has great conservation significance, including as seasonal breeding grounds for water birds. Kutha (water), significant plants and animals and the maintenance of traditional knowledge, comprise key targets for better health of country.
With support from South Australian Government and The Nature Conservancy, Conservation Management helped the Arabana community to develop a Healthy Country Plan, which encompasses their traditional lands, as well as creating an operational plan for Finniss Springs. The plans have prepared the way for tangible and prioritised outcomes to be delivered on the ground.

An important step in the process has been to address some of the threats highlighted by the community; the loss of traditional knowledge and deterioration of built heritage. Thoughtful, culturally sensitive and practical renovations have now been made to infrastructure on Finniss Springs. These include renovations which have provided bathroom blocks and lockable renovated buildings with wide verandahs, water tanks and pumps for the community to use.

With facilities on site, the Arabana community are a step closer to having more Arabana people on country and being able to achieve their aspirations. In the process, important cultural landmarks are being restored, such as stone schoolhouses and former homesteads, which are currently being used by caretakers and different generations of the Arabana community.

The Arabana people now have two important plans, and the first three steps of the Healthy Country Planning process complete and being implemented, which are as follows:

Step 1 - The Arabana community decided what the plan was about and what they needed to focus on. This included their Vision, the Scope (Native Title boundary), Targets (values), Threats, and the Stakeholders involved.

Step 2 - Making the Plan – this step develops strategies, actions and monitoring plans.

Step 3 - Doing and monitoring the Work – the Arabana community have begun this important stage of implementing the plan.

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