The Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) for the Granite Belt Irrigation Project (GBIP), a landmark development for the Southern Downs, has been signed by four Traditional Owner Groups, to enter into a new phase of protection for the cultural heritage in the region.
GBIP will provide a 12,000 megalitre dam at Emu Swamp, south-west of Stanthorpe, and 126km of pipeline, while delivering water to almost 50 agribusiness and community customers. The scale and design of the Project will also see it deliver wide-reaching social and economic benefits to the region.
The CHMP is an agreement between a land user and Traditional Owners to define how land use activities can be managed to avoid or minimise harm to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage. Following the signing of the CHMP in Warwick this month, relevant Traditional Owners will now conduct cultural surveys from Ballendean to Cottonvale to identify, manage and protect cultural heritage for future generations.
Traditional Owner, Tom Brown, whose family has been involved with the Project since its inception 30 years ago and who has worked on cultural heritage projects throughout Australia, said he was pleased by the opportunity provided by the Project to protect and promote the cultural heritage of the region.
“This Cultural Heritage Management Plan means a lot,” Mr Brown said.
“It will allow us to be involved in the Project going forward, and to conduct surveys to identify any cultural material that’s in the area, to make sure it can be protected. It also means we will be able to involve the younger generation as we move forward with all the cultural surveys, teaching them as well, when we go out there, what their culture is.”
GBIP CEO, Lloyd Taylor, said the CHMP signing was a significant milestone for the Project and protecting the cultural heritage of its site, as well as an opportunity to deepen the Southern Downs region’s connection with its indigenous communities.
“It is important, for any significant infrastructure Project, that our First Nation’s people be consulted and collaborated with, to protect the legacy of their culture and history,” Mr Taylor said.
“Under the CHMP, the Project will set aside land and dedicate it to the Traditional Owners for their use in training, educating and conducting cultural activities, and to practice traditional laws and customs. We will also offer employment opportunities to indigenous communities to work with the Project by leading cultural heritage educational activities.
“These include the facilitation of induction programs for the Project and construction teams, as well as signage and naming rights to highlight the importance of traditional ownership in the region.”
GBIP has the potential to transform the Southern Downs by delivering greater water security and economic prosperity to the region’s communities, including through the creation of 250 jobs during construction and 700 permanent jobs once complete.
The GBIP is a jointly funded Project, including $24.3 million from local water customers, the highest proportion of community investment in water infrastructure in Queensland’s history. The Australian Government has committed $42 million through the National Water Grid Fund to support the delivery of the Emu Swamp Dam and Pipeline project and is actively working with the Queensland Government to progress pre-construction activities and the delivery of the Project. The Queensland Government has committed $13.6 million to the project.
Community members can receive the most accurate and up-to-date information on the progress of the Project through the Granite Belt Irrigation Project website or can speak directly with the GBIP team by visiting the Project Office at 3/35 Maryland Street, Stanthorpe.
Media contact: Hannah Hardy
0421 196 004