Landcare Australia Leads New National First Nations Initiative

Monday 27 March 2023: Today in Canberra, Landcare Australia brought Members of Parliament, corporate Australia and landcare volunteers together with First Nations organisations to launch the inaugural National Custodians of Country Gathering as well as the new national First Nations Landcare Working Group.

Speaking at the event were The Hon. Linda Burney MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians; Senator the Hon. Murray Watt MP, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister for Emergency Management; Suzanne Thompson, Managing Director at Yambangku Aboriginal Culture Heritage & Tourism Development Aboriginal Corporation; Victor Steffensen, Co-founder of Firesticks Alliance and Costa Georgiadis, ABC presenter and Junior Landcare Ambassador.

Firesticks Alliance, supported by Landcare Australia and the First Nations Landcare Working Group, will host the National Custodians of Country Gathering (the Gathering) between Monday 21 and Friday 25 August 2023 at Tjapukai (Djabugay) Cultural Park Cairns, Far North Queensland. Indigenous led and co-designed, the Gathering will bring together Traditional Owners, First Nations organisations including First Nations Ranger groups, and landcare from across Australia.

The Gathering will provide a unique opportunity for farmers, landholders, landcare volunteers, researchers, academics, and environmental NGOs to learn practical ways they can integrate Traditional knowledge for land and sea management, improvements for biodiversity, threatened species management and sustainable agriculture into their conservation work.

Victor Steffensen, co-founder of Firesticks Alliance, said the Gathering will be hosted by First Nations people from across Australia to celebrate the diversity and richness of Aboriginal culture and knowledge, and how this benefits community through environmental wellbeing and revitalisation.

“We intend to bring greater awareness and opportunity to broader Australia about the contribution of Indigenous knowledge. An important outcome of the Gathering is for people to learn firsthand how Traditional ecological knowledge and governance can contribute solutions to today’s social and environmental concerns.”

For 34 years, Landcare Australia has been at the forefront of working directly with farmers, landholders, landcare volunteers and groups – as well as in partnership with environmental conservation groups, governments, business and industry, researchers and academics – to support landcare activities that restore, enhance and protect Australia’s natural environment.

Landcare Australia Chair Doug Humann AM acknowledged that while many landcare groups have long worked hand-in-hand with Traditional Owners and First Nations organisations, Landcare Australia is looking forward to strengthening connections between First Nations people and landcare through its new First Nations Landcare Working Group.

“Australia’s First Nations people hold the key to healing our landscape and unlocking agricultural and environmental benefits for future generations across Australia,” he said.

“What makes the First Nations Landcare Working Group significant for all Australians will be its guidance and input for Landcare Australia to support farmers, young people, women, landcare groups and conservation community groups across Australia to make connections with Cultural land and sea management practices. Together, we will build partnerships that will enable landcare to set the benchmark on how we can all come together, work together and stay together to build respectful, effective relationships with First Nations peoples – and strengthen our commitment to integrate cultural land and sea management into landcare practices.”

The program and ticket sales for the Gathering will be announced in April 2023. For more information, please go to

First Nations Landcare Working Group Members

  • Doug Humann AM – Chair, Landcare Australia
  • Ricky Archer – Board Director, Landcare Australia and CEO, North Australian Indigenous Land & Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA)
  • Victor Steffensen – Co-Founder of Firesticks Alliance
  • Suzanne Thompson – Managing Director at Yambangku Aboriginal Culture Heritage & Tourism Development Aboriginal Corporation and Chair, Australian Native Foods and Botanicals
  • Barry Hunter – Chair, Aboriginal Carbon Foundation
  • Dhani Gilbert – Young Landcare Leadership Award recipient
  • Rene Woods – Board Member, Murray Darling Basin Authority, Board Member Landcare NSW and Project Officer, The Nature Conservancy
  • Natalie Sommerville – President, Australian Women in Agriculture and Board Director, National Farmers Federation, member of Yacka Moorundie Landcare group
  • Gail Reynolds-Adamson – Chair, Esperance Tjaltjraak Native Title Aboriginal Corporation.
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