Indigenous communities around the country are on the frontlines of the fight against expansion of the fossil fuel industry.
From the Wangan and Jagalingou people in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, who led a powerful campaign against the Adani Carmichael coal mine, to Tiwi Islander groups who led a legal challenge against Santos’ gas drilling off the coast of northern Australia – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are stepping up to resist projects that are bad of our climate and bad for country.
By giving communities like these stronger avenues to have their voices heard and rights respected, a Voice to Parliament will help elevate their concerns to the highest levels of government.
Indigenous traditional knowledge and practices can make a major contribution to climate adaptation and emissions reduction.
There are great examples of this across northern Australia, where Indigenous ranger groups are using the re-introduction of traditional fire management practices to reduce emissions and enhance biodiversity.
Before joining Climate 200, I had the privilege of working with many of the Indigenous ranger groups who are rolling out these projects. I saw first hand how they are reducing the scale and intensity of late dry-season bushfires (and hence emissions) by proactively undertaking low-intensity, early-dry seasons traditional burns.
Further, these practices protect and improve biodiversity, giving trees, plants and animals a better opportunity to survive, while also providing much-needed employment opportunities to remote Indigenous communities.
The Voice will provide a strong platform for knowledge like this to be better factored into federal policy making and budget decisions.
The race to turn Australia into a clean energy superpower presents big opportunities. But it also presented challenges for the people living on the lands on which our renewable energy infrastructure will be built and critical minerals will be mined.
The Voice will ensure our fight for a better future is one that respects and includes the people most impacted by this transition. Realising this vision requires respecting and protecting local environments and communities, and ensuring they share in the profits. This begins with meaningful consultation, respectful listening and dialogue.
Sustainability, embodied in the concepts of caring for ‘country’ and ‘mother earth’, is at the core of traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. The Voice will give Indigenous Australians an opportunity to bring these valuable perspectives into the Parliament’s discussions, and provide an important counterweight to the fossil fuel lobby that has distorted our democracy and led us to the brink of climate catastrophe.
With the referendum only a month away, now is the time to act: talk to your friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues and help make the difference.