Bana Yarralji Bubu (BYB) Aboriginal Corporation is a social enterprise organisation run by members of the Kuku Nyungkal clan who’s traditional lands encompass the environmentally sensitive Shipton’s Flat site surrounded by Queensland’s World Heritage Daintree region.
Despite no physical infrastructure on Shipton’s Flat, BYB has successfully worked with a wide range of stakeholders to develop and implement training and cultural awareness projects, land management programs and alcohol rehabilitation. The group has also been involved in national and international research partnerships with several universities to explore traditional and contemporary ecological knowledge.
Following the transfer of freehold title over their land through a land mark 2007 Native Title determination, detailed plans and feasibility studies were prepared to assist the traditional owners return to this fragile ecological area.
Spearheaded by the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) in association with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) , the first stage of this long term project involved the design and construction of basic infrastructure on the site.
While the amenities block provides a laundry, store , two toilets and two showers, the provision of a reliable water supply, a satellite based fixed telephone line, a small office to work from and electricity for the first time it will also assist aspirations for a more permanent base for the 10 Nyungkal rangers. With this project complete the Rangers are now busily upgrading from living under tarpaulins and old tents to caravans, plugged into new caravan bays established as part of the project. This infrastructure is in turn helping catalyse BYB’s progressive vision of the development of a healing place that incorporates natural resource management, eco tourism and rehabilitation. BYB are rapidly developing submissions for philanthropic organisations for assistance with the next stage of their enterprise development.
While the building project directly benefits members of the Nyungkal People and helps young and old people experience greater accesss to their traditional lands, the establishment of the ranger base has also stood as a test case for the current planning process and development overlays in the area. Navigation of this process for the first time within the context of Aboriginal Freehold Title has highlighted the hurdles that traditional owners face, when entering the mainstream as developers of their own land. A key outcome of this project has been the commitment by local authorities of significant resources to developing ways to reduce red tape for Indigenous people struggling with the complex planning and approvals system. Nearly two years were dedicated to working through approvals for this project,clearly demonstrating this was a barrier that few Indigenous groups would have the resources to overcome. This outcome is paving the way for other Indigenous groups to achieve their aspirations for country.
Working with the Community
With the Development Approval process finalised, the project moved into the construction phase where Arup used a participatory approach with the community. Teaching construction skills and basic engineering principles enhanced the skills of the community and wherever possible, community members were involved in the planning, design and construction process, which developed skills, built confidence and created a sense of pride and ownership of the facilities.
Following on from a lengthy two year approval process, in July a team of engineers and tradespeople made the trip up the Cape to work alongside the local rangers to construct the facilities. Working side by side with the rangers served as a two way learning process, as the engineers and trades taught construction skills to the local team and assisted in building confidence and a sense of ownership of the facilities. In return the local rangers passed on knowledge about traditional culture to the engineers and taught them the “Bama” (Aboriginal) way. The project successfully demonstrates Arup’s ability to utilise its skills for the benefit of the wider community while providing Arup staff with hands on experience in community development projects.
As the second project of this nature undertaken by Arup in partnership with EWB and CAT, this program further strengthens partner relationships and fulfils the goals of Arup’s Community Partnering Program. As Structural Engineer and Site Foreman, Hamish Banks comments on the project “The establishment of the ranger base in this ecologically fragile area is such an important milestone for the people of the Kuku Ngungkal clan. By working in close collaboration with the community it’s been incredibly satisfying to share my skills and experience with the rangers, whilst also soaking up the local culture and wealth of knowledge that they have to share.”
The establishment of the ranger base in this ecologically fragile area is such an important milestone for the people of the Kuku Ngungkal clan.