07 Jul 2022

Achieving meaningful engagement with Traditional Owners

This NAIDOC week, we spoke to our consultant Jamie Rooney ­– who works closely with Traditional Owner groups at RMCG – about the need for a genuine commitment to get up, stand up and show up for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Jamie became actively involved in the research and management of cultural heritage projects for Traditional Owners while working as a field archaeologist in the United Kingdom as well as Tasmania, Far North Queensland and Victoria.

At RMCG, Jamie acts as a ‘conduit’ between Traditional Owners and other groups such as governments, agencies and private entities on a diverse range of projects. His goal is to help all stakeholders engage with Traditional Owners in a meaningful and non-destructive way and develop stronger relationships.

“The thing I enjoy most about working with Traditional Owners is knowledge sharing. In Australia we’re working with the longest, continuous culture in history. The amount of knowledge that Elders and Aboriginal people in general can pass on is just incredible,” he said.

Jamie witnessed the benefits of working collaboratively with Traditional Owners when he attended Dja Dja Wurrung’s Natural Resource Management (NRM) forum, which allowed local councils, government agencies and private entities to work together to fulfill Djaara’s ultimate goals and their Country Plan.

“It was really amazing to see just how well Traditional Owner groups such as Djaara have developed good relationships with all levels of governments and other stakeholders,” he said.

“I’m working with another local council that doesn’t have particularly strong relationships with their Aboriginal parties and my role is to formulate an engagement framework and policy for the council to get them to that point.

“There is still a lot of work to be done but this year’s NAIDOC week theme of Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! is directed at the rest of Australia to look at the problems faced with Traditional Owners and do what you can to be an ally and support change.”

More information

Find out more about NAIDOC week and our support for Traditional Owner self-determination.

Jamie Rooney being welcomed to Country (right).