MOSSMAN-based Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation last night took out two gongs at the Queensland Reconciliation Awards presented in Townsville.
Jabalbina has been working collaboratively with Rainforest 4 Foundation to identify priority rainforest blocks for purchase and inclusion in the National park estate.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the partnership was one of a kind.
“This year, the Queensland Reconciliation Awards have honoured initiatives which have enhanced cultural awareness and understanding and improved the experiences of First Nations people at school, at work and in the community,” the Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“The winners of the Premier’s Reconciliation Award and joint winners in the Partnership category, the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation and Rainforest 4 Foundation have formed a unique partnership – the only formalised, non-Government program which purchases land for conservation to be owned and managed by its Traditional Owners,” she said.
The two organisations identify Daintree properties – originally sub-divided in the 1980s – with special ecological and Cultural values. Rainforest 4 Foundation and their partners at HalfCut activate their supporter bases to raise funds to purchase the properties. And then once the blocks are purchased, the titles are transferred to Jabalbina Yalanji Corporation who then work with the Queensland Government to add the blocks to the Daintree National Park.
The awards were accepted on behalf of Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation by Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owners Lyn Johnson and her granddaughter Michelle Friday-Mooka.
Lyn Johnson, Chair Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation said she accepted the award on behalf of the staff of both organisations, rangers working on Country, and the team at HalfCut who have raised money to make the project possible. She also acknowledged Andrew Solomon and the Solomon family who are members of the Jalunji Clan – Traditional Owners of the land that has been purchased through the partnership.
“This partnership… it’s what reconciliation is all about,” Lyn said.
“It’s actually about something being returned to Bama. Together we move forward.”
“Reconciliation happens all the time between us as partners. That’s how it works. It’s a whole team effort and it’s how the old people used to work. It’s a big thank you all ‘round.”
Lyn’s granddaughter Michelle Friday-Mooka, Deputy Chair of Jabalbina, echoed her words.
“Reconciliation isn’t just today, yesterday, this week,” she said, “it’s every day. And we are extremely humbled and honoured to be a part of this great partnership.”
“I think we under-estimate the value and power of our partnership. We gave a voice to a lot of people in the room last night.”
“Honestly, we couldn’t do it without partners.”