Saltwater Women gather to talk sea country business

Published: 06/09/2012

Doing more to encourage young Indigenous people to make connections with their sea country and using social networking to discuss women’s business were just two of the issues raised at a unique event held for Great Barrier Reef Traditional Owner saltwater women.

Hosted by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the Saltwater Women’s Gathering on Yunbenun (Magnetic Island) last week was designed to capture the role of Traditional Owner women in sea country management.

The event involved 24 women – from their early 20s to Elders – from different Great Barrier Reef clan groups spanning the Torres Strait in the north through to Bundaberg in the south. The participants included women who work on-country as rangers and in management roles as well as mothers and grandmothers who all shared their cultural knowledge.

GBRMPA Indigenous Partnerships Director Liz Wren said the workshop provided the opportunity for the women to express what their cultural responsibilities and vision for their sea country were.

“The workshop was a fantastic event that provided the Traditional Owner women with the opportunity to advise us on appropriate ways to engage saltwater women in marine park management,” she said.

“They expressed a desire to build on existing partnerships with GBRMPA and showed strong support for our Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement program.

“However, they also stated a desire for greater involvement in science and research conducted on their sea country, more input into policy making and assistance with preserving cultural knowledge.”

As a result of the workshop, the women will also investigate ways to actively encourage young Indigenous people to connect with their sea country, and to learn about its importance.

The group will also look at the potential for using online technology to enable saltwater women to easily share ideas and experiences.

Larissa Hale a Traditional Owner woman from Archer Point and Managing Director of Yuku-Baja-Muliku Landowners and Reserves Limited said the Saltwater Women’s Gathering was a valuable experience.

“I was keen to make contact with other saltwater women of the Great Barrier Reef. The opportunity to learn from other women, build connections and support each other even after the workshop is finished is vital,” she said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef Region and evidence of their connection to sea country dates back tens of thousands of years. More than 70 Traditional Owner clan groups have been identified along the coast of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Saltwater Women’s Gathering is part of the Reef Rescue Land and Sea Country Indigenous Partnerships Program which is managed through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for Country program.

Name: GBRMPA Media
Contact: 4750 0846