New Dambimangari Chairman Rowena Mouda plans a major role for her community in managing marine parks and heritage areas of a “Kimberley Paradise”
The community is investing in new technology and training to establish the capability to work in partnership with government and scientific agencies
The strategy will support a long-held ambition for many Dambimangari people to return to their country
Rowena Mouda is confident that the Dambimangari dream of a successful, self-sufficient community in the heart of the Kimberley will be a reality in her lifetime.
She was elected Chairman of the Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation last month and is determined that the group will continue to re-establish its powerful links with some of the most spectacular country in Australia.
The country includes a major slice of the nation’s biggest national heritage listing – and a substantial section of a three million hectare chain of marine parks in the North West.
The Chairman and her Board of Directors will continue working with governments, businesses, conservationists, partners and Dambimangari members to establish a sustainable lifestyle in what many regard as a remote paradise.
“There is no doubt we have a lot of work to do,” she said.
“But we have a responsibility to this land and a tremendous opportunity to create something very special.”
“The Dambimangari people have worked hard to establish control over many of the areas in our country and that gives us the chance to form strong partnerships with government and scientific organisations to manage the environment and to create a sustainable economy.
“We’re also up-skilling our people and acquiring the necessary technology so that we can play an important role in the programs.”
Rowena Mouda has extensive experience working in Indigenous communities. Before she joined the Dambimangari Board she was the manager of Ardyaloon community on the northern tip of Dampier Peninsula. More recently, she has worked as the co-ordinator of an extended services program at Derby District High School.
She has been a Dambimangari director for nine years and is now embarking on her most ambitious social, cultural and economic development initiative.
The key elements include –
Environmental management programs based on a healthy country plan implemented by a skilled, well-equipped ranger team
Community support to create better education and health care
Joint venture negotiations to build viable businesses, with a strong focus on tourism ventures given the extraordinary and attractive natural environment of our country.
Heritage and cultural development to build the Dambimangari identity and create a richer lifestyle for the future
Negotiations with existing and intending resource producers to secure Native Title agreements based on the creation of Dambimangari businesses with training and employment opportunities for local people.
The Dambimangari people are in the enviable situation of having some of the most beautiful unspoiled country in the world – and a home-grown capacity to provide professional management.
The group has already established an effective framework for a new economy, including the investment of more than $450,000 in an ocean-going patrol boat and tender to provide Dambimangari Rangers with access to the rugged coastal region.
One of the most significant steps in this process is a joint initiative with the State Government to manage marine parks along the West Kimberley coast on Dambimangari Country.
Under the terms of the Joint Management Agreement, the Department of Biodiversity and Attractions and Dambimangari Traditional Owners will work together on research, environmental protection and tourism management programs for –
Lalang-garram Camden Sound Marine Park
Lalang-garram Horizontal Falls Marine Park Area
North Lalang-garram Marine Park Area.
A similar partnership with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy will oversee a management program for the Dambimangari land including Yampi Sound Training area.
The programs will underpin a major focus on community support
The focus has involved a five-year project to publish a major historical work on the Dambimangari people, Barddabardda Wodjenangordee (We’re telling all of you) in July this year. The 416 page book is part of the Future Generations Resource Project to make cultural awareness and connection a more important part of regional education for Dambimangari people and the wider community.
For Rowena Mouda, cultural revival will be just as important as economic development or environmental management.
“As a Board we can make a real difference, she said
“We’re working to make sure that our children have the chance to get a good education. At the same time, we’re continually working on programs allowing people to get back to their country. What we’re doing today is laying the foundations for a long term administration of the community programs and development projects.”