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Anthropology Branch

The Anthropology Branch encountered many challenges during the 2018/19 financial year. In spite of these, many of the positive reforms identified in previous reporting periods have been progressed and, in some cases, either partially or fully implemented. These gains, as well as challenges, are summarised below and are followed by an overview of the various sections that make up the Anthropology Branch, including a synopsis of five of the regions that fall within our jurisdiction.

Branch Review and Restructure

Recently introduced structural reforms have successfully addressed unacceptable management-to-staff ratios. To consolidate this success, funding has been reserved to enable an upgrade to existing positions within the branch and the creation of a new one.

These new senior anthropologists will report to the Branch Manager and share responsibility for the mentorship of regional anthropologists, both Native Title and ABA funded, as well as taking on a number of HR, dispute conciliation, middle management and business planning tasks.

Staff in the new positions will work in consort with the two existing senior anthropologists – Native Title and Land Claims – who have formerly taken on this role on an ad hoc basis, thus freeing them to work exclusively on the prosecution of Native Title and ALRA matters.

This restructure and reform process will increase branch efficiencies yet again.

The redrawing of regional boundaries undertaken over previous years is also imminent with the finalisation of a project database clearly identifying respective workloads. This realignment and reassignment will also contribute to reducing workplace stresses by ensuring a more equitable work share across the branch (see Regional Profiles).

Staff Retention and Well-being

Some setbacks have been experienced. A full staff complement was reported in 2017/18, but the progressive reforms have since been accompanied by the loss of several regional anthropologists. Staff retention is among the most challenging issues facing the branch. Reasons for the relatively high resignation rates vary but in summary appear due primarily to:

  • The Northern Territory’s historically transient population.
  • Workload, lack of capacity and commensurate job intensity.
  • The challenging nature of a cross-cultural work place.
  • The limited pool of qualified anthropologists willing to work in an Australian Aboriginal space.
  • The royalties/disbursement workload.

Several initiatives and incentives – in place and proposed – are designed to alleviate the problem.

For example, the management restructure will provide increased mentorship and greater management oversight of staff, thus providing more immediate support and alleviating some workplace pressures. In addition, increased remuneration, and the development of professional training and career pathways, will provide incentives for employment longevity.

Other strategies to be considered include the ramping up of existing Indigenous employment pathways through education/ training for service initiatives, which are intended to address employment transience by providing opportunities for Aboriginal people, many of whom are inclined to seek long-term careers in the Territory. The initiative also supports the Land Council’s preferred Indigenous employment policy while also offering pathways to career advancement rather than mere static employment options in lower organisational tiers.

Payment (“Royalties”) Agreement Policy and Process

Close collaboration across the Land Council has culminated in the endorsement of a Payment Agreement Policy at Full Council in November 2018. The policy provides an overarching structure for the incremental reforms introduced over previous years, and over coming years will result in a refined and much more efficient disbursement system.

The reforms include the implementation of three to five-year standing agreements for recurrent payments; an increased hotline capacity; the introduction of future purpose (previously known as “emergency”) payment release forms; the appointment of a full-time Disbursement Processing Officer; and the establishment of a Project Management Unit.

The rollout of this revised system is underway with a number of trials already in place and meeting with varying degrees of success. The next implementation phase will consist of a number of branch workshops to be held in Darwin and regional centres with a complete communication package in draft awaiting finalisation and delivery over the coming financial year.

Disbursement 2015 to 2019. 2015 - $13,626,273.05 2016 - $16,210,745.81 2017 - $17,437,467.91 2018 - $25,218,162.79 2019 - 24,011,411.63
Disbursement 2015 - 2019

Disbursement 2015 - 2019

Disbursement Totals by Financial Year.

AVG. MONTHLY SINCE 2015 = $1,769,120.41

AVG. MONTHLY LAST FY = $2,000,953.47

Dispute Conciliation

Some traction has been gained on certain dispute conciliation matters, but with the dynamic nature of Aboriginal society, these will continue to arise and challenge the Anthropology Branch. First-hand input and advice from Council members and senior Aboriginal constituents have been sought and will be vital if such matters are to be appropriately managed.

Strategies to effectively manage such disputes are essential if the promise of a “post determination” space, in which Aboriginal people can derive meaningful economic and social benefits from their land and sea, is to be realised.

Present and Future Challenges

The branch is also faced with an exponential growth in business on Aboriginal country but with no commensurate increase in capacity.

This growth is clearly evident in the tables presented in the Land Interest References with the advent of onshore oil and gas exploration leading to a further escalation.

In spite of these capacity constraints, the branch has undertaken substantial research into chosen “target” areas to clarify anthropological and legal questions in anticipation of the upsurge in activities on country. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of dollars, already generated from preliminary oil and gas exploration, have been disbursed to and for the benefit of traditional Aboriginal owners. These disbursements have not been without issue but have provided a methodological template for the future distribution of funds.

Other projects reported on previously are continuing with the branch working to enhance cooperative links across the organisation, especially in respect to the Community Planning and Development unit, where future options for investment may be offered to constituents. Negotiations and discussions around Blue Mud Bay and other high-level matters are also continuing with data upload and digitisation projects nearing completion after years of effort.

Land Interest References

Land Interest References (LIRs) are registered each year for those with an interest in using any Aboriginal land or waters. All requests are recorded and processed, and the table below provides a breakdown of activities completed.

A total of 384 requests were lodged, with 290 significant releases completed during the reporting period, a slight decrease compared with the previous year but still on trend when taken in conjunction with the past five years. As at the end of the reporting period, outstanding releases are being processed in the new financial year; some are on hold due to a change in project timeframes and it is anticipated a number of the requests will be withdrawn.

Since 2006, the Anthropology Branch has designed and implemented enterprise database management systems to support the growing demand for anthropological research.

Central to this has been the development solution that stores documents and maps electronically, with a full text index on the documents stored within.

Many documents held are only available in hardcopy, thus a task over recent years has been the scanning and optical character recognition of the hardcopy documents.

There are 35,146 individual documents held in the LIR, of which 7860 have been scanned and digitised this past reporting year.

In addition, approximately 5744 new documents were added to the LIR, each requiring geographic and ethnographic indexing, a considerable administration burden.

GIS Section Annual Reporting

The NLC’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team, or the mapping team, consists of four staff operating within the wider NLC Anthropology Branch. The team is responsible for cartographic production, mapping data compilation and analysis, and a variety of other graphic and databased outputs. All operational units of the NLC request the services of the GIS team for project support and they run a tight ship in terms of operational procedures and data management practices to keep up with the busy schedule.

The five-year average of mapping requests was not markedly different from last year (2014-2018 saw on average 827 requests, compared with an average of 878 for the 2015-2019 period). The 2019 count of requests was 837, which seems to be indicating a plateau.

Database and Architectural Development

The GIS team has put significant effort into architectural redesign of the GIS system. Last year saw significant resources put into data migration scripts from old NLC corporate databases into the new (now live) LUMAR system. This year required significant efforts to rollout a new GIS architecture and to implement tight synchronicity with GIS spatial data creation and the LUMAR agreements and expressions of interest database.

Architectural developments have been greatly helped by ESRI Australia, who provided guidance on spatial data-loading from file-based systems to centralised SQL server database systems.

ESRI also provided advice and guidance on best-practice meta-data cataloguing, naming conventions and database security, and provided labour in rollout of the system’s software.

These developments were also supported by the IT projects team, the core IT team. The section 19 team were also able to help in funding to acquire data translation software to fit in with the new architecture.

While this project is far from complete, the GIS team now have a well-paved path to delivering on improved data management and have a reliable platform for providing modern mapping support, including delivery of interactive project mapping on mobile devices for in-situ tasks.

Regional Profiles

Anthropology Branch regions

There are seven identified regions within the NLC’s jurisdiction. Within the Anthropology Branch these are further broken down to reflect respective workloads in particular areas. In the last year, these areas have been reviewed and amended to better reflect existing and future workloads of the branch and its regional anthropologists.

An overview of the work being undertaken in the seven anthropology regions follows. These summaries by no means take into account all of the activities in each region, but do give an indication of the diverse and complex environments in which Traditional Owners, Native Title Holders and many NLC staff live and work.

North East Arnhem Land Region

The North East Arnhem Land anthropology region includes most of the NLC’s East Arnhem region and the northern most parts of the Ngukurr region. Traditional Owners for the region are the Yolngu people in the north east and Nunggubuyu people in the south east toward Numbulwar. The region includes areas of cultural significance, such as Blue Mud Bay, Gove Peninsula, Elcho Island in the Wessel Island group and the Mitchell ranges.

The major communities of Gapuwiyak, Galiwin’ku, Gunyangara, Yirrkala and Numbulwar are within the North East Arnhem anthropology region as well as more than 60 homelands.

The region attracts a broad range of economic and development interests – from mineral and petroleum exploration, extractive minerals, tourism, Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) and Indigenous ranger groups, wildlife harvest (buffalo safari and crocodile egg harvest), business, research and government sectors.

As in previous years, the North East Arnhem region continues to generate the largest proportion of s19 land use agreements (LUAs) and leasing expressions of interests (EOIs) across the NLC region. The North East Arnhem anthropologist plays a key role in supporting the s19 land use agreement consultation process and compliance activities by identifying Traditional Owners and affected groups, and providing advice on traditional decision-making. The facilitation of land owner meetings regarding use of leasing income is also a key task carried out by the regional anthropologist.

The increase in leasing activity and income from traditional lands, particularly in larger communities, has provided new economic development and social opportunities for Traditional Owners in the region. Regional anthropology has been working closely with the NLC’s Community Planning and Development Unit on pilot projects in the region where Traditional Owners are able to use their income streams on projects of their design to benefit their own communities. In some locations, there has been significant planning, consultation and dispute conciliation carried out by North East Arnhem anthropology to support Community Planning and Development projects and s19 agreement consultations.

Central Arnhem Land

The Central Arnhem Land anthropology region intersects the NLC’s East and West Arnhem Land regions, and a small portion of the Katherine and Ngukurr regions. It is supported by the Katherine, East Arnhem and West Arnhem regional offices.

The region encompasses the major communities of Ramingining and Milingimbi and numerous outstations situated throughout the Arafura Wetlands and along the Blyth and Cadell rivers.

There are more than 100 Traditional Owner clan groups in the region, with the easternmost groups speaking Yolngu Matha and the westernmost groups comprising a large variety of Aboriginal languages, such as Burarra, Na-Kara and Rembarrnga. The presence of so many diverse clan groups in a relatively small region makes Central Arnhem a particularly ethnographically dense region to work in.

The most significant development for the region over the 2018-19 reporting period has been the collaboration between the NLC’s Sea Country team and the West Arnhem and Central Arnhem anthropologists to facilitate the development of a sea country management plan for the Djelk IPA coast.

This project has enabled Traditional Owners to voice their concerns and aspirations for their sea country, and to create management plans for their intertidal waters. Meetings convened in Maningrida in mid to late 2018 and in March 2019 brought together Traditional Owners from 42 clan groups along the Western and Central Arnhem coastline, with permit zoning for commercial and private fishing enterprises at the forefront of the discussion. A fruitful by-product of these meetings was the opportunity for Traditional Owners to demarcate and detail unregistered sacred sites in intertidal waters and at sea.

S19 activity in the region has increased steadily since previous years, generating significant royalties for Traditional Owners.

The livestock and fishing tourism industries have been particularly active in the area, with buffalo hunting, buffalo safari, crocodile egg collection and sports fishing enterprises providing economic opportunities for land owners.

Given the region’s general reluctance to engage in mining and exploration proposals, there has been little activity in this respect compared with neighbouring regions. Ramingining continues to be the busiest hub for s19 proposals in the area, with numerous town infrastructure developments progressing in the past financial year. Efforts on behalf of the East Arnhem regional team have been made to tackle s19 proposals in Milingimbi, with plans to revisit the island and Maningrida in the near future.

West Arnhem

The West Arnhem anthropology region covers the western part of the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Land Trust. The major communities are Maningrida, Minjilang and Warruwi, and there are many outstations across the region. The more than 100 Traditional Owner groups within the region speak a variety of Aboriginal languages. Generally, the groups are patrilineal, which means that clan affiliation and inheritance of country is passed down through the father and father’s father. However, affiliations to country are complex and besides land-owning clans with primary rights, there can be many other groups and individuals with interests in a particular country through kinship, company relationships or ceremonial connections.

Mining exploration activities form an important part of the anthropological work taking place in West Arnhem. There are a number of granted Exploration Licences (ELs) within the region. Every year the NLC facilitates consultations with Traditional Owners and affected people where the companies’ work programs are presented and explained so informed consent can be given along with royalties instructions.

Some consultations concern new Exploration Licence Applications (ELAs). At the request of Traditional Owners, the NLC sometimes facilitates site surveys before a final meeting can be held. Site surveys enable knowledgeable Traditional Owners to map out sacred sites and culturally or environmentally sensitive areas that require protection or exclusion from exploration licences. They contribute to the intergenerational transfer of cultural knowledge and can be an opportunity to visit and care for remote areas. Following a helicopter site survey, consent was given for several ELAs; sensitive areas were excluded from ELAs 27252, 27253 and 27703, and other ELAs went into moratorium.

During the reporting period, consultations were conducted with Traditional Owners regarding leases over infrastructure lots in the major communities resulting in a number of new ALRA s19 Land Use Agreements (LUAs) with government agencies, private entities and Aboriginal corporations.

Traditional Owners in Warruwi consented to a new s19 lease over Lot 137 for the West Arnhem Regional Council (WARC) to build a playground and an amenities block.

The NLC often consults on commercial development and tourism on Aboriginal land, including artistic ventures that may showcase the area. An upcoming action thriller feature film, High Ground, is to be filmed in the region. Following consent from several groups of Traditional Owners, it will feature some of the amazing landscapes and stunning features of West Arnhem Land.

Planning for the responsible and culturally appropriate management of the intertidal zone continues. It focuses on the development of agreements that will support Traditional Owners in controlling access to their intertidal country.

The increase in royalty disbursements across the region continues to keep staff busy. Royalty distributions made to Traditional Owners come from a variety of projects pertaining to mining, infrastructure, recreational fishing, crocodile egg collection, telecommunications and cultural tourism.

Kakadu, Cobourg and Mary River Region

The NLC’s Kakadu and Cobourg anthropology region is between the Darwin hinterland and West Arnhem Land. It encompasses Mary River National Park in the west, Kakadu National Park, Garig Gunak Barlu National Park on the Cobourg Peninsula and the Cobourg Peninsula Sanctuary and Marine Park in the north.

The region now includes the Gunbalanya community and some parts of the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Land Trust adjacent to the parks.

The national parks all operate under joint management agreements between Traditional Owners and the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission or the Commonwealth’s Parks Australia. A primary focus of the NLC is to support the effective participation of Traditional Owners in joint management arrangements. This involves consultations over management plans, natural and cultural resource use, and monitoring informed decision-making processes to ensure board members can confidently report on Traditional Owners’ views.

The NLC also promotes employment and business opportunities for Aboriginal people; the protection of traditional law and customs; the protection of sacred sites; and help in managing disputes.

Tourism ventures in the national parks include cultural tours, nature experiences, recreational fishing operations and, on the Cobourg Peninsula, safari hunting. A number of these ventures are Aboriginal owned.

Other activities pertaining to environmental conservation, such as fire and weed management, rock art conservation, research projects and media proposals, are also supported.

Carbon projects in Kakadu National Park aimed at earning carbon credits through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from bushfires continue. The governance model is based on a steering committee comprising Traditional Owners to ensure they retain full control over the sale of the carbon credits and the use of income for fire management related projects, community-based programs and/or infrastructure. The NLC will continue to support Traditional Owners in developing new carbon projects using similar models.

There are a number of land claims in progress within the region, including the Cobourg Peninsula Land Claim (No. 6), the Kakadu Repeat Land Claims covering areas in Kakadu not yet granted as Aboriginal Land, and the Woolner/Mary River Beds and Banks land claim (No. 192). The anthropological research for each of these claims has been completed.

On 12 March 2019, the ALRA was amended to include the four remaining areas in Kakadu National Park in Schedule 1 as Aboriginal land. The NLC anthropology branch will continue to take part in consultations with Traditional Owners to finalise the leaseback to the park and enable the granting of the land. Negotiations with the NT Government over Cobourg are continuing. The Anthropology Branch is keeping Traditional Owners informed on progress; consultations with claimants are planned for October.

The closure of the Ranger uranium mine and monitoring Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) and the Commonwealth Government to ensure they fulfil obligations to rehabilitate the mine is a major, long-term project. The NLC’s role is to advocate for Mirrar people’s interests, and promote opportunities for them to gain environmental, economic and social benefits from the mine closure.

This work will involve collaboration between the NLC and the Mirrar people, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), ERA, the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments, and other external stakeholders, such as the Kakadu National Park Board of Management and Director of Parks.

Work on the culturally appropriate management of the intertidal zone is continuing. New agreements allowing Traditional Owners to control access are being negotiated with NT Government.

The Iwaidja-Armurduk Management Committee, which represents the Traditional Owner groups for the coastline between Kakadu and Garig Gunak Barlu national parks, has been working on the issues affecting their sea country.

In Gunbalanya, the NLC has continued to hold consultations with Mandjurlngunj Mengerrdji for new s19 leases. Two new water tanks are going to be built, one for the oval and another as part of a park. The Traditional Owners have also agreed to continue allowing guided tours to Injalak Hill to visit rock art sites, which will provide some employment as well as promoting interest from tourists.

Ngukurr, Borroloola-Barkly Region

The Borroloola Barkly region covers a geographically expansive area encompassing 26 Aboriginal land trusts and many pastoral leases. The major towns are Borroloola and Elliott. Major communities include Ngukurr, Minyerri and Robinson River. The region also features a large section of coastline and the Roper, McArthur and Limmen Bight rivers.

During this reporting period, multiple agreements pertaining to s19 mining, pastoral and township development matters have been facilitated between Traditional Owners and proponents.

In 2018, directors and members of the Hodgson Downs Community Association consented to the surrender of the Community Living Area (CLA) of Minyerri to the Northern Territory Government. The NLC will continue negotiation in the new financial year with the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments regarding the conversion of this area of land to Aboriginal land.

A focus of the NLC will continue to be addressing the chronic shortage of housing for Aboriginal people in Elliott. The NLC is working with the Northern Territory Government, which has recently pledged to address the backlog of housing and overcrowding by providing $4 million to renovate houses in the township. Work is scheduled to start in late 2018.

The NLC is working with Traditional Owners and Native Title Holders to identify their housing needs, including exploring the option of establishing an Aboriginal corporation to manage housing, local enterprises and community services, such as youth engagement programs.

The NLC has provided support to the Northern Territory Iron Ore Project (formerly the Sherwin Iron Ore Project) to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment, which includes a Social Impact Assessment and Cultural Heritage Plan in the new financial year. The NLC consulted with Native Title Holders about the commencement of operations by the Brit Marine Iron Ore project (formerly Western Desert Resources Iron Ore project). Native Title Holders and Australian Ilmenite Resources entered into an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) intersecting the Namul Namul and Flying Fox pastoral leases. An initial meeting with Traditional Owners of the Mambaliya Rrumburriya Wuyaliya Aboriginal Land Trust (ALT) was held to ascertain their views regarding exploration and mining on their land.

During the reporting period, the NLC has conducted consultations with Traditional Owners of the Alawa, Waanyi-Garawa and Garawa Aboriginal land trusts regarding mustering and PLUA proposals. Alawa Traditional Owners have reached agreement with a proponent for mustering. The NLC will finalise consultations with Waanyi-Garawa and Garawa Traditional Owners in the new financial year.

In the past year, the NLC have conducted s19 consultations with Traditional Owners of the Ngukurr, Urapunga and Robinson River communities and at the Borroloola township.

Agreements have been reached to renew a s19 lease for the Ngukurr Arts Centre and renew a licence to maintain the Ngukurr Freight Hub. Traditional Owners of the Urapunga community have consented to a s19 lease over the campground at the Urapunga homestead. Traditional Owners of the Alawa 1 Aboriginal Land Trust have agreed to gravel extraction along the Hodgson Downs Road, and members of the Hodgson Downs Community Association (HDCA) consented to a lease for the crèche at Minyerri.

Initial consultations have been conducted with Traditional Owners of the Robinson River community regarding extension of the community oval and adjacent storage facilities, and maintenance of the local cemetery. The NLC has also conducted meetings at Borroloola about the local cemetery and erection of a Telstra tower. Telstra is building infrastructure across the region, including new towers, resulting in Minyerri and Robinson River recently receiving mobile phone coverage. Related agreements will be finalised in the new reporting period.

The NLC’s Community Planning and Development branch have been working with Traditional Owners at Ngukurr to plan and fund an upgrade of the school oval, the construction of toilets near the church and to erect a sign at the Kewulyi outstation. Preparatory work is underway to support the NLC’s Sea Country planning project and Permit Reform project in relation to the Limmen Bight area.

Victoria River District Region

The Victoria River District is centred on the catchment of the Victoria River in the southwestern portion of the NLC area. Land tenure of this region includes a number of land trusts, pastoral leases and Indigenous Land Use Agreements subject to Native Title.

The communities of Timber Creek, Bulla, Amanbidji, Yarralin, Lingara, Pigeon Hole, and Menggen, as well as surrounding outstations, homelands and areas of outstanding cultural and historical significance, such as the Judbarra/Gregory National Park, lie within the region.

The history of pastoralism in the region is relevant to understanding local groups today and the remarkable maintenance of cultural values within changing conditions.

During this reporting period, there has been an increase in the number of consultations in the VRD, including s19 leases, Indigenous Land Use Agreements and mining agreements, which provide successful outcomes for landowners and Native Title Holders. The regional anthropologist is responsible for providing advice in relation to the decision-making process of the groups concerned to comply with the requirements of the ALRA and NTA.

The main event of the past year was the High Court’s determination of the Timber Creek Native Title Compensation award. In this landmark case, Indigenous customary rights were included for the first time in the mechanism to calculate compensation for the extinguishment of Native Title Rights. Timber Creek claimants commented that the acknowledgement of cultural loss in addition to economic loss is of relevance for all Indigenous Australians.

“Our Law connects us to our country, and our old people past and present, and guides us to where we are and where we need to go,” they say.

At the same time, the Anthropology Branch has been involved in the progression of land claims, native title claims, sacred sites clearances and cultural heritage projects in an attempt to advance proprietary rights in land of Indigenous people across the region.

Katherine Region

The Katherine Anthropology region encompasses the larger townships of Katherine and Mataranka and the major Aboriginal communities of Barunga, Beswick, Jilkminggan, Manyallaluk, Bulman and Weemol.

The region extends south-east and northeast from Katherine and includes the Mangarrayi, Beswick, Manyallaluk and Jawoyn Aboriginal land trusts and the south-west area of the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Land Trust. Pastoral leases include Conways, Flying Fox, Goondooloo, Mainoru, Moroak and Mountain Valley.

In the past year, the Anthropology Branch has contributed to the progression of a number of land use matters in the Katherine region. Significant consultations and agreements have taken place for grazing and buffalo mustering in the Elsey, Beswick and Roper River regions, as well as consultations for the Barunga Festival.

Agreements have been made with Traditional Owners over cemeteries in communities across the Roper Gulf Regional Council area. Traditional Owners have agreed to community housing and store developments and variations in Manyallaluk, Beswick and Barunga. The branch has also processed royalty disbursements, associated with related agreements, in a timely manner.

Darwin-Daly-Wagait (Wadeye) Region

The Darwin Daly Wagait includes the following Aboriginal land trusts: Kenbi, Daly River Port Keats, Malak Malak, Upper Daly, Wagiman No. 1 and No. 2, Finniss River, Delissaville/Wagait/Larrakia, and Gurudju.

The Darwin-Daly region has a diverse range of s19 leasing interests in three major communities: Wadeye, Palumpa and Peppimenarti. The consultation process for a high-voltage powerline from Wadeye to Peppimenarti, concluded earlier this year.

Tourism ventures, including Helifishing, are operating within the region with consent from Traditional Owners. The Darwin-Daly team completed consultations and site visits to progress several new Helifishing areas on the Daly River Port Keats Land Trust. Consultations are continuing for crocodile egg harvesting agreements over the same land trust.

Pet meat licenses have also been granted in the past year.

Regional anthropology has been working closely with the NLC’s Community Planning and Development Unit (CPD) on a number of projects in the region. In certain areas, the Darwin-Daly regional anthropologist has been involved in planning, consultation and dispute conciliation to support CPD projects. For example, such assistance has aided the Papangala clan to progress their outstation project to the satisfaction of all involved.

Developments on Aboriginal land also provide Traditional Owners with the opportunity to request and take part in sacred site surveys, which enable them to identify culturally and environmentally sensitive areas that require protection or exclusion from land use agreements.

The surveys are also an important opportunity for transferring cultural knowledge to younger generations and for visiting otherwise inaccessible country. The regional anthropologist has facilitated several site surveys with knowledgeable Traditional Owners this year to map sacred sites and update the Anthropology Branch’s records.