Fraser Island national park re-named in recognition of traditional ownership

The area of national park which takes up most of Queensland’s Fraser Island has been re-named K’gari (pronounced ‘gurri’) in honour of the local Butchulla creation story.

The Butchulla were granted native title over Fraser Island in 2014 and have incorporated their three laws into new signs which advertise the new name at the island’s three barge landings.

 

The three laws of the Butchulla people are included on the new signs: “What is good for the land comes first; If you have plenty, you must share; Do not touch or take anything which does not belong to you.”

 

The rest of the the Great Sandy National Park on the mainland south of the island, will not have a name change.

Elder and Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation director Ms Bird emphasises the importance of this first step in the name change and the new signage:

 

“It’s important because everyone, especially the Butchulla people, when they go over there and they step onto K’gari, Fraser Island, and see our signs, they will know that this is our country.”

 

In the Butchulla people’s creation story, K’gari was a spirit princess who helped to create what is now known as Hervey Bay. Believing that land to be the most beautiful place ever created, K’gari asked to stay there and was transformed into the island, where she remains to this day.

 

K’gari/Fraser Island is famous for its miles of white-sand beaches and freshwater perched lakes.

 

Ms Bird continues her 30 year campaign to re-name the island as a whole. Although the Government designated K’gari as an ‘alternative name’ in 2011, many of the area’s traditional landowners would like to see the name given equal status with Fraser island, as has happened at Uluru/Ayer’s Rock.

Re-post ~ Fraser Island’s national park renamed K’gari, meaning paradise by Jess Lodge on ABC NEWS

Turnaround as Tamworth welcomes diversity

A recent photo essay in the Guardian tells the stories of several families who are newcomers to Tamworth. The article notes the turnaround in the community’s attitude towards outsiders. It also celebrates the work of Multicultural Tamworth, an organisation which has been instrumental in creating greater understanding and appreciation of diversity through ‘open and honest discussion’.

In 2006 Tamworth attracted national criticism by voting down a proposal to re-settle five Sudanese families who were fleeing from war and persecution. However, the Guardian’s photo essay tells a different and very refreshing story. What’s more, Eddie Whitham, the founder of Multicultural Tamworth ~ an organisation with the ethos of being good “neighbours to newcomers” ~ says the region is now welcoming and celebrating diversity.

“Tamworth is very much home, a great community.” Says third-generation Fijian Indian, Shalini Pratap who moved to Tamworth in 2003.

 

Nicole Li, an engineering surveyor, arrived with her husband and 9-year-old son in 2014 on a skilled migrants visa. ““Coming from Beijing, we love the quiet and less-stressful lifestyle. We feel very free.”

 

Deborah Manyang moved to Tamworth in 2015 after spending time in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. “It’s safe here,” she says. “We can’t hear guns or see soldiers. We’re happy. It’s a new future for our children, they are adapting well and the local people have been very helpful.”

 

Tamworth cavalcade

Multicultural Tamworth and immigrant families took part in Tamworth’s country music festival for the first time this year, reflecting the change in attitudes.

 

This year’s Australia Day marked the changing attitude to multiculturalism in Tamworth when 37 Tamworth residents became Australian citizens.

Eddie Witham is working to see this trend continue.

 

“We need to find a common ground. It’s not going to work if we have isolated people. We want to make our town work. The hope is that this will become a natural thing ~ that there will be no us and them.”

 

Re-post ~ ‘Neighbours to newcomers’ ~ portraits from Tamworth by Lisa Maree Williams in The Guardian Australia

A Trillion Trees

Plant For The Planet, a global tree-planting movement sparked by a nine-year-old’s school project, has joined forces with the UN’s Billion Trees Campaign. They aim to encourage the planting of at least one billion native trees each year worldwide. In the first five years of the campaign 12,585,293,312 were planted and they are still going strong.

Stop talking, start planting: Giselle Bundchen shows her support for the tree-planting projecte

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen with campaign founder Felix Finkbeiner, showing her support for the tree-planting initiative.

Felix Finkbeiner set the challenge to plant a million trees in his home country of Germany when he was nine years old, inspired by founder of the Greenbelt Movement Wangari Maathai, who he learnt about during a school project. Felix planted his first tree outside the gates of his school in 2007 and by the time he was 13 his message had spread and he was speaking at international conferences. That year, in 2011, the one millionth tree was planted in Germany.

The charismatic Finkbeiner, who is now studying at university in London, has inspired a generation of young activists to believe in their ability to influence change.

 

“I knew he was this legendary kid,” says Aji Piper, a 15-year-old tree “ambassador” in Seattle who met Finkbeiner in 2015. Piper, an activist and plaintiff in a children’s’ lawsuit against the United States government over climate change, regards Finkbeiner as a role model.

“We saw he was doing speeches. He was so young. Very impressive. That’s the skill level I want to get to.”

 

The campaign also prompted the first global tree count, carried out by NASA, which showed that there are around three trillion trees on the planet, over seven times more than was previously estimated. However, with deforestation occurring at a rate of 10 billion trees per year, the coalition realised that they needed to up their goal from a billion to a trillion trees planted… and they took on the challenge, adding their weight to other tree-planting initiatives around the world.

 

Reviving The Redwoods: The Life’s Work of David Milarch

Re-post ~ Teenager Is on Track To Plant A Trillion Trees by Laura Parker in National Geographic

Find out more and get involved ~ Plant For The Planet; Bonn Challenge

Putting people first in impact investment

Genuinely involving local people in impact investment can open up new investment pipelines and make for better outcomes for investors and communities, says Kelly Ryan from the US-based Incourage Community Foundation, in a recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Incourage is a “place-based philanthropy, community developer, and impact investor” which has been working in a rural area of Central Wisconsin for over a decade. They are regenerating a local economy that was severely impacted by the sale of paper manufacturer Consolidated Papers in 2000. This led to a 40% loss of area jobs within three years.

 

Involving community in impact investment

 

We are forging a new operating model as true community steward; advancing a long-term vision of inclusive community where residents and institutions are equipped with the skills, tools, and agency to shape the communities they want.

 

Impact investment can be much more than a top-down injection of cash into a community. Focusing on community involvement can diversify the benefits, creating a bigger bang for each invested buck.

Ways of working

Kelly mentions three ways that Incourage apply this model within the community:

  1. Strengthening residents’ sense of ownership over the future of their region. Building community capacity by involving them directly in investment projects.
  2. Redefining people’s understanding of what has value in communities. Moving away from a purely financial capital mindset. Recognising and building on the social and intellectual capital of residents.
  3. Modelling values-aligned behaviour in their organisation. Discussions are then initiated on how this can be carried through in impact investments.

 

 

We have learned that an infusion of financial capital by itself does not yield behavior change and inclusive, sustainable economic growth. Change requires that we connect and leverage different kinds of capital ~ including moral, human, social, intellectual, reputational, and natural capital.

 

Local and Global

In order to have greater control over the way the wider economy impacts the community, Incourage also invest in and engage with companies who operate in their area to encourage business practices which have local benefits. They also take care to ensure that success is measured in terms of outcomes defined by the community itself as well as by global financial measures.

 

Read the original SSIR article on how Incourage are putting people and place at the centre of their impact investment strategy here.

Click here for a list of Impact Investment organisations within Australia.

Doomsday Clock worsens to 2&1/2 minutes to midnight…

It’s been 64 years since the world has been this close to Doomsday.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has been updating the Doomsday Clock regularly for 70 years. On Thursday, they turned the hands to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight.

That’s a bit closer than last year, when the clock was three minutes to midnight and the closest the clock has been to midnight since 1953 when it was two minutes to midnight. That move came following the U.S. detonating its first thermonuclear bomb and Russia detonating a hydrogen bomb.

Doomsday Clock

In the early days, the threat of nuclear war was the primary gear turning the clock’s arms. Climate change became a cog in 2007, moving the clock closer to midnight that year. Scientists invoked it in 2015 again, pushing the clock closer still to midnight. And in 2017, another cog was added: a rising tide of political leaders around the world making statements unhinged from facts.

Climate change facts are clear: that  the world had its hottest year ever recorded in 2016, the third year in a row that mark has been set. Arctic sea ice has been decimated by repeated heat waves, seas continue to rise and researchers have warned of instability driven by climate shocks.

The cause is human’s pouring carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

Carbon temperatures

“Facts are stubborn things and they must be taken into account if the future of humanity is preserved,” said Lawrence Krauss, one of the clockmakers and a professor at Arizona State University.

Yet despite knowing all of that, scientists have stressed that the world is not doing enough to put humanity on course to avoid catastrophic climate change. David Titley, a professor at Penn State and one of the authors of the new doomsday clock report, said that while the Paris Agreement represents a positive step, the climate talks in Morocco late last year didn’t move the ball forward enough.

While these actions weighed on the decision to move the clock’s hands closer to midnight, scientists also considered another disturbing trend of world leaders espousing policies and making statements not tied to evidence.

There’s no more stark example than the rise of Donald Trump in the U.S. He has espoused climate science denialism as have many of his cabinet nominees and advisors. He’s also made false statements on dozens of topics, from voter fraud to the size of his inauguration crowd.

This is hugely problematic when it comes to climate change, where the U.S. stands as an outlier with the only head of state to deny the science behind it.

This is the exact moment when the world needs to be doing more to address climate change. Yet the current administration of the world’s largest historical emitter is poised to ignore this fact, putting the future of humanity at risk.

“Nuclear weapons and climate change are precisely the sort of complex existential threats that cannot be properly managed without access to and reliance on expert knowledge,” the scientists wrote in their report.

Scientists said they only moved it forward 30 seconds because Donald Trump has held office a few days. There’s still a slight hope his actions could be different from his words. If they’re not, the hands of the clock may move even closer to midnight.

Re-post ~ The Doomsday Clock just moved closer to Midnight | Climate Central

See More ~

African refugees reinvigorating rural Mingoola, Queensland

A radical grassroots resettlement plan has transformed an ageing rural community, bringing together two groups with very different problems. In the tiny township of Mingoola, on the border of New South Wales and Queensland, local woman Julia Harpham was grappling with a common problem in rural communities.

The population was in decline, enrolments at the local primary school were down and farmers could not find labourers to help with manual work. Her town was dying before her eyes.

“Many of us have children who work in the city and aren’t going to come back to the farm because things have been so tough on the land,” Ms Harpham said. “You don’t like to see a community die. And there’s not much joy in a place with no children.”

Three years ago the local progress association decided to take a leaf from the region’s migrant past and looked for refugees willing to move to the area.

But when they began contacting refugee agencies they were told there would not be adequate support for refugees in the bush. “Every time I contacted any kind of refugee service they all said, ‘oh, no, these people need to stay in the city,'”At the end of last year matters became more urgent, with the announcement Mingoola Primary School would close if there were no enrolments in the new year.

Refugees yearn for space
Meanwhile in Sydney, refugee advocate Emmanuel Musoni was grappling with problems in his community from central Africa. They had been displaced from Rwanda and neighbouring countries during years of bitter civil war.

The majority had rural backgrounds before having to flee their homes for refugee camps.

“If you ask them, ‘What was your dream when you applied to come to Australia and boarded the plane,’ they say, ‘We hoped we were going to be put in the countryside, to connect ourselves with agricultural life and have a garden’,” Mr Musoni said.

Instead they were resettled in cities where employment prospects were few, the environment was intimidating and many became depressed and isolated.

Moving to Mingoola
Mr Musoni led a small delegation from his community to Mingoola early this year to meet locals and see whether resettlement was viable.
On his return he put out a call for families willing to make the move; within a week he had a waiting list of 50.
He chose two families from Wollongong with 16 children between them. Six of the children were of primary school age, which would allow Mingoola Primary School to remain open.
Meanwhile, the community began renovating several abandoned houses in the area to accommodate the families, who moved to Mingoola in April.

Among the families who have settled there has been a great sense of gratitude.

“The people of Mingoola are good people, friendly people, lovely people,” refugee Jonathon Kanani said. “I don’t know how to say about the things that they do for us; I can’t describe that.”

Ms Harpham said she was being realistic about the situation. “We know that nothing is ever perfect,” she said. “But I’ve been stunned by the generosity of our community. Our priority is, are they happy? Because they weren’t happy in the city.”

For those involved in this social experiment, the hope is that its success can be replicated elsewhere to help other struggling rural communities. Mr Musoni now has 205 families on his database wanting to move out of the cities and politicians have been watching the Mingoola project with interest.

“I’ve had no hesitation in telling the Mingoola story, trying to encourage other people to look at the same program,” Mr George said.

Mr Musoni said the support so far had been encouraging.

“Julia and her community have shown it’s possible that regional communities can be welcoming to people from Africa,” he said. “They have broken the ice that was existing for us to get into the regional areas. So we feel so thankful to their efforts and their help.”

Re~Post: African refugees reinvigorating rural Mingoola in social experiment to boost ageing community | ABC

See more: A Field of Dreams ~ Australian Story ABC TV

What’s in a name? Murder, massacres, history…

Walking track signage

A Scottish explorer credited as one of the founding fathers of Australia is set to have his name wiped from the map after his bloody past came to light. Angus McMillan ~ born on Skye in 1810 ~ has been celebrated with plaques, cairns and even comic strips after founding the harbour that went on to be Port Albert in South Australia.

As a tribute to his pioneering spirit the country’s most southerly electoral district ~ McMillan ~ was named after him. But now it has come to light that he massacred Aboriginal communities to the brink of extinction in a bid to seize more land for his fellow Scottish sheep farmers. His most notorious massacre occurred in 1843, when he led the slaughter of between 80 and 200 aboriginal men, women and children as revenge for the death of a single white settler.

Australian electoral authorities are now reviewing the ward’s name after activists have expressed outrage that it is named after a man known as the “Butcher of Gippsland”.

Evan Ekin-Smith of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has said a name change will be considered at the earliest opportunity. He also said that AEC guidelines clearly indicate that naming a district after a man known for mass murder is not appropriate. In fact, they state the complete opposite: “Divisions should be named after deceased Australians who have rendered outstanding service to their country.”

Russell Broadbent ~ the Liberal MP who represents McMillan ~ has been at the front of the drive to rename the district. He expressed hope that constituents would come forward to make their opinions known on the renaming. He said: “The renaming of an electorate resides with the AEC, which welcomes submissions from the general public on the matter.”

Pauline Durnin ~ a community campaigner ~ said: “I think we need to recall that when this constituency was named in 1940, Aboriginals were not included as citizens of Australia, nor had the right to vote. “I would like to see the McMillan electorate renamed in favour of the Gunaikurnai people.” The Gunaikurnai are the Aboriginal people who have lived in the district for some 20,000 years.

Little River Gorge

Photography by David Rayside

Edinburgh-based writer Cal Flyn ~ who discovered that McMillan was her great-great-great uncle in 2011 ~ also welcomed the move. Ms Flyn has written a book about her ancestor and his legacy and said: “It seems the wheels of progress turn slowly, but I’m glad to hear that the concern of Gippsland’s Aboriginal community are finally being heard.”

“Changing a name cannot change the past, but it is a symbol perhaps that the wilful blindness shown towards the darker seams of colonial history is coming to an end.”

~ Cal Flyn

Ms Flyn travelled to Australia to research her book Thicker than Water and discovered that on McMillan’s arrival in 1840 there were 2,000 Aboriginals in the area. By 1857 only 96 remained.

Professor Ted Cowan, a historian at the University of Glasgow, described McMillan’s actions as a “scar” on the reputation of Scots in Australia.

In spite of his diminishing reputation, McMillan is still celebrated in some areas. A community centre in Sale, Victoria, honours him with a sculpture featuring a thistle in representation of his Scottish roots, and a saddlebag containing human skulls, which he kept as grim trophies of his exploits.

Re-post ~ Australia to remove tribute to Scotsman who massacred Aboriginals | The Scotsman

What’s the scenario with global biodiversity?

Fishing boat off the coast of Spain, near the Cíes Islands. Modelling future scenarios for biodiversity could be used to build more sustainable fisheries. Image: Armando G Alonso / Flickr

When the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) ~ the leading international body for the assessment of climate change, consisting of 195 member countries ~ reviews and assessed the most recent scientific information on climate change, one of the central things they were concerned with are climate projections and future scenarios. That is, what the future climate is likely to be and what impact that might have on our economies, societies and ecosystems.

The IPCC regularly update a range of future scenarios based on factors that affect climate, like greenhouse gas emissions. They can show us what the future climate might look if we continue on the same greenhouse gas emissions trend, or if we reduce or increase our rate of emissions. They can then predict what is likely to happen if certain policies are implemented or actions are taken to curb emissions. Having commenced this work in 1988, the IPCC’s ability to model these future scenarios, and how we are tracking against them, has become increasingly refined.

Now, the world’s biodiversity and ecosystems is benefiting from this kind of scenario modelling.

Recently, in Kuala Lumpur, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) ~ which does for biodiversity what the IPCC does for climate ~ adopted an approach for using scenarios and models to inform policy making related to biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The approach that was adopted by representatives of IPBES’s 124 member nations is spelled out in the report, The Methodological Assessment of Scenarios and Models of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The assessment was conducted by 83 experts and cited in more than 3,000 scientific papers and, in two rounds of peer review, received 4,066 comments from 230 independent reviewers.

“IPBES’s goal is to give policymakers and all of society a more complete understanding of how people and nature interact, and how policy and management decisions made today might affect these interactions in the future,” said Dr Simon Ferrier, the scenarios and models assessment’s Co-Chair and Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO.

Examples include the use of scenarios and models to sustainably manage fisheries or to carry out land use planning that balances needs for development and biodiversity protection.

In setting out the rationale for using scenarios and model, IPBES had as an objective to move away from the current reactive mode of decision-making, to a proactive mode in which society anticipates change and thereby minimises adverse impacts, and capitalises on important opportunities.

“The scenarios and models assessment is the starting gun for mobilising scientists, decision makers and other stakeholders to jointly embark on an ambitious, global effort to better understand and use scientific information about biodiversity and ecosystem services,” said Dr Karachepone N. Ninan, the other Co-Chair of the scenarios and models assessment and Chairperson of the Centre for Economics, Environment and Society in Bangalore, India.

IPBES’s member nations also approved the commencement of a new global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services, which will be completed by 2019, and will measure progress towards meeting the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, 2011-2020, and the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Mobilisation of work on scenarios and models across the broader scientific community will allow this assessment to also explore the potential consequences of alternative policy options for maintaining and improving the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services into the future.

Repost ~ What’s the scenario with global biodiversity? | ECOS

Read more ~

Queensland rural business increases diversity, and profits

Kalresh carrots

Kalfresh is a multi-million-dollar business at Kalbar, an hour out of Brisbane in the fertile Scenic Rim. It grows, packs and markets carrots, pumpkins, onions and beans for domestic and export markets.

Managing director Richard Gorman changed hiring practices and the business culture after some questions about the diversity of his management team made him realise the company was being held back because of the lack of women at the senior level.

“Our management team, all men. Our board, all men. Anyone who had any say in anything, it was all men,” he said.

To address the problem he tapped into a pool of labour he had never considered; the tertiary-educated women married to Kalfresh’s managers and growers.

“We had some of the most talented people we could possibly ever hope for who in their professional world would be on enormous wages. We had it all right in front of us.”

Five wives agreed to work part time for the company on a special project. The team, which had decades of experience in corporate and government jobs, included a business consultant, a banker, a Walkley award-winning journalist, an events manager and a teacher.

They were asked to solve one of the company’s most vexing problems: vegetable waste.

“It’s extremely frustrating, you’re looking at a perfectly good item that might have been 10mm too short or it’s bent,” said Mr Gorman. Kalfresh grower Ed Windley said it was “not uncommon for the bottom 15 to 30 per cent of your crop at times to get the chop, and that just kills the whole economics of what you’re doing”.

“Feeding it to cows, which is worth just $50 a tonne, is the last resort so for us, so to be able to value add any of that is a big plus for the company. As a grower it means more money in your pocket,” said Kalfresh’s agricultural director Rob Hinrichsen.

The women proposed investing in a $3 million processing line to value add the seconds for the pre-cut bagged vegetable market. They researched consumer trends, designed the packaging, planned an advertising campaign and signed Woolworths up for a trial.

The trial was a success and Woolworths now stocks the Just Veg range of carrot shred, circles and sticks in QLD, NSW and Victoria, with plans to expand to other states.”The emergence of pre-packaged fruit and veg in the last five years has been phenomenal,” said Woolworths’ head of produce Scott Davidson.

Tracey Rieck, who runs a vegetable farm with her husband Mick, said many farmers would be surprised how much value can be added to what the industry now calls “ugly veg”.

“It’s a smaller part of our whole crop but the return is insane,” she said. The seconds, which were worth between $50 and $100 a tonne as stock food, are now worth $5,000 a tonne, five times more than the premium bagged carrots which are worth $1000 a tonne.

Mr Gorman’s wife Alice said the pre-cut vegetable market was booming. “15 per cent of Australians buy a ready-to-go meal twice a week,” she said. “They use the supermarket as their fridge so they have less stuff at home, and they shop for what they require on a daily basis.

“They don’t like waste so they buy smaller amounts, and they’re time poor so often they’re looking for an easy but healthy option.”

Rob Hinrichsen said he’d been involved in the company for over 20 years and “I’ve never actually seen that sort of smooth transition over a 6 or 8 month period. It’s been sensational.”

Mr Gorman said: “It’s just another way diversity fixes problems.”

Re-post ~ Kalfresh: Qld rural business turns carrot problem into profit by increasing diversity | ABC

See more ~ Landline | ABC