Sea country management

Indigenous Reef Advisory Committee

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority established the Indigenous Reef Advisory Committee (IRAC) to:

  • Provide strategic guidance on Indigenous Partnerships matters
  • Provide advice on the application of world's best practice principles to sea country planning and implementation
  • Recommend ways to facilitate partnerships, build capacity and engage with Traditional Owner groups in the management of marine resources in the Great Barrier Reef.

Together, the IRAC members bring expertise and experience in Indigenous partnership initiatives and sea country management from within the Great Barrier Reef and from elsewhere around Australia. The IRAC recommend the following priority areas for the Reef Rescue Land and Sea Country Indigenous Partnerships Program:

  • Sea country planning including Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements (TUMRAs)
  • Partnerships and communications strategy
  • Leadership development including youth forums and young hunters forums
  • Knowledge management including support for knowledge and information exchange, recording and people exchange
  • Evaluation and monitoring frameworks, including reviews and co-investment
  • Compliance activities required to support Traditional Owners in management of their Sea Country.

Science and Management Workshops

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's (GBRMPA) Science and Management Workshops provide information on western science and marine parks management to Traditional Owners as a basis for them to consider developing a Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement (TUMRA). 

These information sharing workshops strengthen communications between local communities, managers and reef stakeholders and build a better understanding of Traditional Owner issues about the management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Generally, the Science and Management Workshops take on a one and half day format, delivering one day of western scientific information on fisheries, water quality, climate change, tourism, protected species biology and threats as well as compliance elements, followed by a half day closed session specifically to allow open discussion amongst the Traditional Owners themselves.

Leadership Strategy

Indigenous Leadership is intricate, involving the wise teachings of elders.It:

  • is integral to continuing social, cultural, economical and spiritual connections to country
  • strengthens culture and is vital in the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next.

The GBRMPA is developing a Sea Country Leadership Strategy and accompanying implementation plan that will:

  • Identify ways to enhance leadership in Indigenous communities in the context of sea country management;
  • Document where communities need support to develop leadership skills for their future.

Combined Knowledge Systems

Story Place Bibliography is a reference database that holds records gathered about Traditional Owners groups living along the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef Rescue Land and Sea Country Indigenous Partnerships Program is investigating ways to develop an integrated knowledge management system utilising Story Place. This project will link customary knowledge, science and management information together. The combined knowledge system will bolster future sea country planning on traditional estates.

Ecological Monitoring Project

The evaluation review and investment in monitoring frameworks is highlighted as one of the priorities of the Reef Rescue Land and Sea Country Indigenous Partnerships Program.

A toolkit of supplementary training and monitoring options through this project aims to advance Traditional Owner aspirations and elevate their capacity to manage sea country areas.

Compliance Training

The Indigenous Compliance Training Package provides Traditional Owners and the wider Indigenous community with a pathway to a meaningful role in compliance within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA).

Relevant and targeted training provides participants with a greater understanding of sea country management within the GBRWHA and how to respond and report illegal activities. The training also provides GBRMPA Field Management staff with an increased awareness of how to engage with Traditional Owners and the wider Indigenous community during their daily activities.

This Compliance Training Package is delivered to:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rangers employed through Working on Country or through an alternative funding program
  • Traditional Owner groups who have a Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement (TUMRA)
  • Traditional Owner groups who aspire to have a TUMRA
  • Marine Park Inspectors and Field Management program staff.

The three courses are:

  1. A Guide to Working with Traditional Owners to Achieve Compliance: This course provides an overview of the Indigenous Community Compliance Liaison Officer role, the importance of sea country to Traditional Owners and aims to improve the compliance process when interacting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is aimed at Marine Park Inspectors and other Field Management staff.

  2. Engaging Traditional Owners in Compliance: The purpose of this course is to assist Traditional Owners  to understand marine park zoning and how Native Title works with the zoning and other marine legislation, identifies local issues, stakeholders and who to contact if illegal activities are suspected. Generally participants are Traditional Owner groups who currently have, or aspire to have a TUMRA.

  3. Eyes and Ears Training: Participants in this two day course are generally Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rangers. The half-day Engaging Traditional Owners in Compliance course is subsumed into this training session. Further, it supports participants to identify with their compliance role while working as Rangers, assisting them to become potentially better witnesses when they come across non compliance on the land and in the sea.

For further information about the Compliance Training Package or courses please contact the Indigenous Partnerships Group, toll free on 1800 990 177.