18 December, 2020
TRADITIONAL owners in Nyungkal near Cooktown are taking control of their land and people through a community-driven initiative that will provide banyan (housing), jobs, enterprise and a return to country for their clan.
In conjunction with Queensland Logging Company, the community has established a positive selective harvesting timber project which looks at the ongoing sustainable cutting of their homeland timbers.
The project is designed to empower Nyungkal people, providing connection and culture while addressing social determinants that affect Indigenous people.
In addition to housing, the timber will be sold and royalties used to facilitate on country economic development, cultural growth, healing and health infrastructure to support closing the gap.
Traditional owner Debbie Fullagar was nominated to support the elders with this project and act on their behalf to establish it.
“Traditional elders’ would like to offer their young generation the opportunity to connect to our land and live back on country away from the overcrowding in community, poor employment, violence, substance abuse,” she said.
“This project will support employment for our people, create opportunities for other projects on land, opportunities for tourism, enterprise, healing and lots more.”
Enterprise aspects of the project include tourism-related endeavours with plans for tours and cultural camps in the community as we as opportunities for artists to use milled timbers to make traditional crafts and hunting tools to sell.
Ms Fullagar said these types of projects also helped to address social and emotional wellbeing of their community and teach the next generation to respect country and learn to connect.
“With ongoing support from community and good partnership with services we the Nyungkal clan can stand strong and empower our people to help themselves become self-sufficient and have better life for the future,” she said.
Sustainability is at the heart of the project which will see the community become completely self-sustaining from creating market gardens to provide food for families and spaces for traditional healing and health services.
“Our long-term goals will be to move people back on land, create long term wages jobs on country, share the knowledge and growth of what elders are truly about, create our own arts & craft resources for selling to tourists, run healing programs for family men’s & women’s business, and protect our Nyungkal land as traditional owners.” Ms Fullagar said.
The project currently employs eight Nyungkal men who are undergoing on country skills building including sawmilling and timber and tree species identification, with Queensland Logging Company.
They will also be involved in the construction of housing.
The group is hoping to have six built by June, 2021 with most Traditional Owners and elders currently living at Wujal community or on land in tents and humpies.
Queensland Logging Company co-owner Kim Dempsey said they were inspired to get involved in the project to help the Nyungkal community get back on country and provide for future generations.
“We met with a couple of the TO’s and Elders and said you guys can use your resource on your resource on your land which is sacred and healing to you to build your own bayans and then you’re not only doing that, you’re teaching the next generation how to build,” she said.
People or organisations wanting to support the project can call Ms
0449 519 390.