Joint media release: Support for the Reef's traditional owners

17 July 2021

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians
The Hon Warren Entsch, Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef


The Australian Government is investing an additional $9 million for Traditional Owner led projects to protect and manage Great Barrier Reef supporting programs, including coastline management, weed and feral animal control, Indigenous fire management and protection of threatened species.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the Australian Government is providing the traditional owners of the Reef with the support they need to help conserve the World Heritage listed area through existing Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger programs, and under Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements.

“Traditional Owner engagement and co-governance is a guiding principle of the Australian Government’s extensive efforts to preserve the Reef for future generations,” Minster Ley said.

“There are more than 100 Indigenous-led projects underway up and down the Reef on land and sea country, including $51.8 million being delivered to support traditional owner engagement under the Reef Trust Partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

“This investment is increasing and strengthening the capacity and involvement of Traditional Owners in protecting and managing the Reef.

“It’s a vital partnership that is improving water quality, controlling crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks, addressing issues with feral animals and pests, monitoring reef health and restoring damaged reefs.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said this commitment will enable Indigenous Rangers to do even more to improve environmental outcomes for the Reef, in addition to the work they already do that contributes to environmental, social, and economic outcomes.

“Indigenous Australians play an important role in land and water management that benefits all Australians,” Minister Wyatt said.

“We’re doing what’s best for the Reef by empowering the traditional owner groups who manage land and sea country to preserve and share their ancient knowledge and be involved in on-country activities that help protect this World Heritage listed area.”

Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Warren Entsch, has worked closely with Indigenous rangers and land managers on crown-of-thorns starfish control and other programs.

“They do an absolutely tremendous job from crown of thorns control to the protection of turtle nests and native vegetation,” the Special Envoy said.

“This funding will help some of the outstanding work they do in restoring natural landscapes that is helping to improve water quality and to protect our precious native species.”

The Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan recognises the importance of Traditional Owner engagement in protecting and managing the Great Barrier Reef.

Together, the Australian and Queensland governments are investing more than $3 billion from 2014-15 to 2023-24 to support the delivery of the Plan.

This additional funding will be delivered through partnerships with the National Indigenous Australians Agency, the Queensland Government, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.