Let's build a culture where Australians unite around a living country, reclaiming our shared role as custodians of this land.
Voice of Country
It’s no secret that Country has suffered since colonisation. Whether you’re 100 years old or 100 seconds old, if you’re in Australia, you’ve seen nothing but a decline in our natural world.
First Nations people cared for this land and the animals on it for millennia. But today, Australia is a world leader in extinction. And host to some of the largest plagues and infestations of introduced pests, weeds and diseases in the world.
Something needs to change. And that thing is our culture.
Country, culture in crisis
Modern Australian culture allows for the destruction of Country. It allows plagues of feral animals and invasive weeds, pests and diseases to overrun national parks, bushland and farmland.
Invasive species contribute significantly to the destruction of sacred sites, loss of native wildlife, and extinction of Indigenous totem species. This can have long and lasting impacts on First Nations communities’ culture and connection to Country.
On Larrakia Country around Darwin, cane toads have wiped out populations of land goannas, blue-tongue lizards and snakes. Invasive buffel grass has taken over large areas of the Northern Territory, impacting cultural fire and food gathering practices.
Rampant invasive species and thriving Country cannot coexist. It’s one or the other. And we can’t have a healthy Indigenous culture without a healthy Country.
It’s time to heal Country.
As an Aboriginal nation it is our culture to care for Country and the species that evolved here over millennia.
We envisage a Country with flourishing sacred sites and an abundance of totem animals, our lands regenerated after being liberated from a 230 year siege of feral pests, weeds and exotic diseases. Successful breeding programs for native endangered animals are underway in protected areas where native plants thrive, creating shelter and food for wildlife.
With the hands of Indigenous people, and the hearts and minds of modern Australian communities, people care for Country, together.
Photo by Justin McManus. Aboriginal Narjong Ceremony at Long Plain in the Kosciuszko National Park to highlight the damage done to the sensitive Sphagnum bogs and fens by feral horses. Uncle Max Harrison comes through the smoke. The smoking ceremony focuses people minds on caring for the rivers and cleansing the spirit.
Voice of Country
Australia’s Indigenous people have a deep knowledge and understanding of managing Country. The role of First Nations people is central to solving Australia’s conservation challenges.
Voice of Country will build awareness, ecological knowledge, advocacy skills and practical community capacity for the management of Country.
This will help elevate the First Nations voice of Country amongst key decision makers across federal, state and territory governments, culminating in a joint, united and powerful voice on protecting Country. The Voice of Country will be incorporated into political processes, policy negotiations and into public debates.
To achieve this, our goal is to appoint an Indigenous Land and Sea Country Commissioner to ensure a dedicated and permanent voice for the protection and health of Country.
We're all custodians now
As well as connecting and empowering First Nations communities to heal Country, Voice of Country is an invitation for all Australians to fulfil the responsibility of custodianship.
Because accepting our role as custodians is what’s needed to heal Country.
We don’t have to turn back time. We just have to open our eyes, our ears and our spirit. Country is crying out for us to listen.
Voice of Country is an invitation to all Australians – whether you’re Indigenous or not – to care for and heal Country. To take responsibility as a caretaker of this land and accept your role as a custodian. And to listen to and amplify the voices of First Nations people, who have cared for Country since time immemorial.
Voice of Country aims to build a national, Indigenous-led distributed network of caring Indigenous leaders and communities united together to save Country from invasive species.
If your Indigenous-led organisation wants to be part of this collective and powerful voice on managing Country, reach out to Richard Swain, Voice of Country Project Lead for more information at email@example.com
With the hands of Indigenous people and the hearts and minds of modern Australian communities, it will take all of us to Care for Country.