As our country formally celebrates a day synonymous with the dispossession of Aboriginal people from their land, we have an opportunity as individuals to consider the role we can play in healing the past and redefining the future.
For people whose identity is rooted in their connection to land, the systematic fracturing of this connection is a painful wound. Rainforest 4 Foundation is dedicated to creating partnerships that help make a tangible contribution towards the healing of these wounds.
“Healing the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people starts with addressing the central issue of land rights, and justice for a people who never ceded these rights. Through the building of meaningful personal relationships founded in culturally appropriate communication, there lies a path of reconciliation and healing.” Kelvin Davies - Founder of Rainforest 4 Foundation
Kelvin Davies and Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owners.
An essential element in creating truly reconciliatory relationships requires a shift in mindset, away from a ‘colonisers approach’ towards a ‘decolonisers approach’. A colonisers approach prioritises business arrangements over personal relationships, efficiency over protocol. It denies the opportunity to communicate in a culturally appropriate and respectful fashion. A ‘decolonisers’ approach is one that yields space, prioritizes listening and learning, and allows for Aboriginal self-determination.
A partnership has been established between the Rainforest 4 Foundation, HalfCut, and the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Traditional Owners of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. As an Aboriginal land holding entity, Jabalbina manages the process of returning land back to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people and protecting it in perpetuity as part of the Daintree National Park.
Whilst there are numerous environmental non-profit organisations, and even individual landowners forming partnerships to involve Indigenous organisations in the management of land, Rainforest 4 Foundation and HalfCut's Daintree land buyback program is the only formalised non-government program in Australia that purchases land for conservation to be owned and managed by its Traditional Owners.
“What the buyback partnership means to Jabalbina as an organisation is supporting Bama to get back on country, to allow them to be reconnected to country, and supporting the Traditional Owners and Elders to be part of that process.” Kupa Teao - CEO Jabalbina.
Over the past 18 months, with HalfCut's support, the Rainforest 4 Foundation has raised the funds to purchased 7 properties in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
The significance of this for the Kuku Yalanji Bama (Bama meaning Aboriginal people) cannot be overstated. On a practical level, the program supports the creation of jobs for the Kuku Yalanji Bama in caring for Bubu (land). This enables self-determination and connection to land in a meaningful way.
The legal framework provided by Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation is also hugely significant in a country that has to this day failed to provide the Traditional Owners of the land with a Treaty. Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation is a Registered Native Title Body Corporate (RNTBC), Land Trust and Cultural Heritage Body for the Eastern Yalanji Traditional Bubu (lands).
Aboriginal people have never ceded their rights to their land. In 1770 James Cook declared the land terra nullius- unoccupied, and thus avoided his own Imperial Directive which stated that ‘consent of the natives’ was required to take possession of the land. And yet no Treaty has ever been signed, leaving Australia as the only Commonwealth nation that doesn't have a treaty with its Indigenous people.
Whilst the Australian Government continues to deny Aboriginal Australians as Sovereign Owners of Australia, alternative solutions can, and must be pursued to enable Aboriginal self-determination.
Working with Jabalbina, Rainforest 4 Foundation acknowledges the tremendous importance of land to Indigenous Australians both politically, legally and spiritually. The partnership takes us a step closer towards healing the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Andrew Solomon, Kuku Yalanji and Jalunji clan Traditional Owner
“To me as a Tribal Man from my mob...it’s very important...that spiritual connection that we do have as tribal mob to our country, it’s our mum, and we do want her to come back to us. That way we can look after her, because at the moment, this government is about economy, and not looking at our mum and how she looks after us. We as tribal mob, we do have that responsibility to look after our country, for the benefit of everyone. Not only for our mob, but for everyone within Australia.” Andrew Solomon, Traditional Owner.
Hear from Kupa Teao, CEO of Jabalabin Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, and Andrew Solomon, Traditional Owner. See https://youtu.be/f3rdCHJoPAA
Help Care for Country.
By supporting this program to buyback land, you support the Traditional Owners in Caring for their Country, whilst helping to safeguard rich biodiverse areas of our country forever in the Daintree National Park. Please make a donation now online.
Our current campaign to purchase Lot 157 in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is underway, and we’ve already raised $228,367 towards our target of $404,685. At a size of 8.0937 hectares, this lowland tropical rainforest ecosystem is home to a number of threatened species including the Southern Cassowary, Bennetts Tree-kangaroo, and 12 Threatened species of plants. Support the Kuku Yalanji Bama in returning to land, and become part of a story of healing, and respect for land and people. Please make a donation now online.
Traditional Owners with the staff of Jabalbina, Rainforest 4 Foundation, and HalfCut.
Rainforest 4 Foundation is working with HalfCut to raise funds for the purchase of Lot 157 Cape Tribulation Road in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. HalfCut is a non-profit organisation that engages people of all cultures, ages, and sexes to raise awareness and funds for rainforest conservation. As over half of the world's rainforests have been destroyed, we are joining together to restore our rainforests.
Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation is a Registered Native Title Body Corporate (RNTBC), Land Trust, and Cultural Heritage Body for the Eastern Yalanji Traditional Owners.