Strategic direction for the future of the Oyala Thumotang Land Trust

Directors of Oyala Thumotang Land Trust met in Weipa on 6 and 7 May 2014 to plan for the future of the land trust.

The directors are intent on providing a strong future for the group, and have commenced planning to get the aspirations of the Land Trust working on the ground.

Rod Burke, chairman of Oyala Thumotang Land Trust said the plan will be a working document, not one that sits in a shelf.

“It will be in plain English and will help lead us into a time of growth and prosperity in the future” he said.
Currently, Oyala Thumotang Land Trust own over 75 854 hectares of freehold land, 456 000 hectares jointly managed with National Parks, and 32 224 hectares dedicated to Yuukingga Nature Reserve.

The Oyala Thumotang Land Trust Directors agree that they want responsibility under the joint management arrangements, to make sure there is meaningful employment for their mob, most of whom are based in Coen. They see opportunities for employment through tourism and cattle, and as rangers in the National Park. Rod Burke said that Oyala Thumotang want to be the responsible managers of the park, and recognised as such. Director Allan Creek agrees.

“This plan is showing that we really want to move on, we’re not sitting back and being ‘jacky-jacky – yes boss’ anymore. We’re entitled to get up and speak, especially for our country, for everyone to look to us, especially in the park. There are lots of good things to come out of this” Allan Creek said.

Cultural responsibility for joint management of the park lies with Oyala Thumotang, but the Directors say that it is overlooked in delivery of the ‘joint management’ arrangements. It is accepted in conversation, but not implemented.

“We don’t want to just tell people what we doing” said Allan. “We want to show them.”
Director Phillip Port lives in Coen and wants to be able to do the work that needs to be done when it needs to be done - at the right time, such as weed control.

“We should have local people out doing work in the park during the wet, we will get out there - walk, ride horses. I’ve been 21 years on homelands. We can see what needs to be done, but can’t do anything about it right now” he said.

Oyala Thumotang Directors see the plan as an important step for management of their homelands. “Direction is sorely needed by us, led by us – a collection of individuals working together, a coalition of the willing” Rod Burke said.

“The Land Trust are grateful to Karrell Ross from the Department of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs for support and assistance through the Land Trust support role she plays, and now Cape Strategic direction for the future of the Oyala Thumotang Land Trust York NRM for helping us with this planning process” Rod said.

Rod and Allan share a laugh. “In ten years time, we don’t want to be doing all this work anymore. We want to be sitting on the Archer River fishing, with the younger ones running around doing the work” said Allan. “With our direction and support” Rod finished in seriousness.

The plan is due to be completed by the Land Trust’s AGM later in the year. The Oyala Thumotang Land Trust formed in 22 May 2012. The group represent Ayapathu, Wik Mungkan and Kaanju. Directors of the trust include Rod Burke (Chairperson), Allan Creek, Phillip Port, Lawrence Fruit, Victor Lawrence, Peter Pratt, Douglas Ahlers and Stanley Ahlers.