Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Victor Dominello today announced that a $298,000 grant had been awarded for a project that will allow Aboriginal people to register their cultural association to the Upper Hunter region under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NSW).
Mr Dominello said the grant would support the Aboriginal Owner Registration Project, enabling the Office of the Registrar of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (ORALA) to undertake vital research to establish a Register of Aboriginal Owners for the Upper Hunter.
Opening the register of Aboriginal owners in the Upper Hunter will ensure greater certainty and transparency in the way cultural heritage management advice is provided on resources and development projects, Mr Dominello said.
The register will provide a strong foundation for the Aboriginal community and resources companies to work more collaboratively to protect culturally significant sites while also supporting local employment opportunities in the mining industry.
It will help conserve, promote and support Aboriginal cultural heritage in the Upper Hunter by enabling Aboriginal people who identify with a certain area to have their association formally acknowledged and respected.
It is about giving the Aboriginal community a sound cultural basis for engaging with resource and development companies in the region.
Mr Dominello said the project had been funded by the Upper Hunter Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Trust, which was established to provide funds from mining companies to be used for the benefit of Aboriginal cultural heritage in the Upper Hunter Valley region.
This project was found to meet the Trust's primary objectives to deliver cultural heritage studies or employment and education programs to benefit all Aboriginal communities in the Upper Hunter, Mr Dominello said.
NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee welcomed the announcement of funding from the Trust.
The mining industry is delighted that funds from the Upper Hunter Cultural Heritage Trust are finally to be spent on projects that will benefit the Aboriginal people of the Upper Hunter. We hope that the Aboriginal community will see worthwhile outcomes, Mr Galilee said.
The Registrar of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act Stephen Wright said the establishment of the register of Aboriginal owners would be an inclusive process, affording all Aboriginal people with cultural association to country an opportunity to participate in cultural matters.
The register will provide a strong legal mechanism for Aboriginal people to establish and assert their cultural authority and the funding of a project for the Upper Hunter is a wonderful initiative of the NSW government that will have very positive outcomes, Mr Wright said.
The project will commence in mid-January and be completed by the end of 2015.
MEDIA: Matt Dawson 0427 145 575