Joint media release: Boosting Traditional Owner co-management of Reef

22 September 2023

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water
Senator Nita Green, Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Senator for Queensland

The Albanese Labor Government is expanding Sea Country partnerships to better protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The $3 million funding boost will protect our precious animals and plants within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park by partnering with First Nations to manage and enhance the protection of Indigenous Heritage Values.

The Government is providing the funding to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to strengthen Sea Country partnerships by expanding the successful Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements (TUMRA) and Sea Country Values Mapping (SCVM) programs.

The TUMRA program expansion will see 10 accredited agreements covering approximately 43 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef coastline increased with Sea Country planning underway with Dabu Jajikal, Dyirribarra Bagirbarra, Wanjuru Yidinji and Yuwi Traditional Owners. 

The funding will also assist TUMRA and SCVM groups to facilitate Sea Country planning, monitoring, on-country activities, permissions system cultural referrals and create jobs.

The program expansion was recommended in the Reef 2050 Traditional Owner Implementation Plan.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek: 

“Our Great Barrier Reef is one of the planet’s most outstanding natural wonders.

“There are over 70 Traditional Owner groups along the Queensland coastline whose traditional estates extend over the Great Barrier Reef and many more groups form part of the Reef’s Catchment.

“We are so lucky in Australia to have the world’s most successful environmentalists to learn from. No one knows this land and sea like First Nations communities. And no one is better placed to care for it than they are.

“This funding is just one part of the work the government is doing to better protect and restore the Great Barrier Reef in partnership with First Nations.”

Quotes attributable to Nita Green, Senator for Queensland:

“This is a practical example of the Australian Government’s commitment to the protection of the Great Barrier Reef as one of Australia’s precious places.

“The Reef Authority has strong partnerships with Traditional Owners to support their aspirations for managing sea country through Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements (TUMRA).

“Maintaining effective and meaningful partnerships with Traditional Owners is essential to keeping cultural and heritage values strong, safe and healthy, conserving biodiversity and enhancing the resilience of the Reef into the future.

“The Great Barrier Reef is an international treasure. This unique icon is one of the most complex, breathtaking ecosystems on the planet. There’s nowhere else like the Reef.”