Turtles and traditional owners

PRODUCTION ADVICE & NRM NEWS -  AUGUST 2022 - ENVIRONMENT

By Keisha Egan, Aboriginal Support Officer
P:  03 5881 9925  | M:  0459 330 363  | E:  keisha.egan@lls.nsw.gov.au

Local Aboriginal young people are learning about monitoring endangered turtle species and turtles' role in their traditional culture.

The Living Murray Program (TLM), one of Australia’s largest river restoration programs, have partnered with the Deniliquin School Based Aboriginal Trainee (SBAT) program to monitor three turtle species in the Barmah Millewa forest, the Broad Shell and Murray River Short Neck Turtle, both endangered in Victoria, as well as the Eastern Long Neck Turtle.

The Living Murray program (TLM) is one of Australia’s largest river restoration programs. The TLM team undertake monitoring programs within the Ramsar listed area of the Barmah-Millewa forest, engaging with local First Nation’s People and encouraging them to be involved with the turtle monitoring being completed by Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI).

The turtle monitoring program has great environmental outcomes and opportunities for hands-on learning for the SBAT trainees. The program is also a great example of how social outcomes are achieved by building strong relationships, collaborative approaches and an understanding and respect for the area's culture and heritage.

SBAT has been developed in partnership with Murray Local Land Services, Deniliquin High School, Yarkuwa Indigenous Learning Centre, Sarina Russo and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The pilot program will see an initial cohort of three Deniliquin High School Year 11 students of Aboriginal background learn to manage, protect, and sustain valuable environmental and cultural assets. The program aims to retain local Aboriginal students in the education system while providing them with the opportunity to learn about their culture, become familiar with Country and obtain a qualification outside of mainstream education avenues. A further goal is to provide role models and mentors for younger Aboriginal children whose families may aspire for them to continue their education and engage with culture and country.

Senior Elder Uncle Colin Walker said: “The traineeship is very meaningful to the young ones now they are learning, it’s important to get them out in the forest, learning about Country and how to care for it. It’s a valuable program, and I am very proud to see this happening.”

Luke Egan, a Project Coordinator from Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre, said: “This is an amazing program and opportunity for our trainees. What they are learning now means in the future they can choose to pursue a career in natural resource management, look after their country, protect their sites and set an example for the younger generation that is coming up.”

Turtles and Traditional Owners in the Barmah-Millewa Forest is an NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service video portraying the methods of monitoring three freshwater turtle species in Murray Valley National Park and the engagement occurring with Traditional owners. Turtles are a culturally important species for Yorta Yorta, Bangerang and other regional Aboriginal representative groups. The Living Murray program supports water management in the Forest, which maintains and improves the life cycles of its many wetlands species.

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