Caring for country

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have strong cultural connections to their country and have been managing their land for thousands of years ref=33317. There is increasing recognition of the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s knowledge and skills in this area. Recent breakdowns of ecological systems and harms to biodiversity has been linked to a loss of traditional forms of land management ref=19416.

Indigenous land management programs now operate in every state in Australia and in the Northern Territory (NT). These programs combine traditional knowledge with conservation training to protect and manage the land, sea and culture ref=33317.

As well as the benefits to the land and the environment, caring for country brings health benefits to the traditional land owners ref=19416 ref=30448. Studies from Central Australia and the Northern Territory show that those people living on their homelands had a lower risk and occurrence of chronic disease. This was linked to Aboriginal residents maintaining a better cultural connection to country and to their families. Other direct health impacts of participating in land management include increased physical activity, less alcohol and illicit drug use, greater access to bush foods, and less access to takeaway foods ref=33317.

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