This research examined the roles, challenges and opportunities for Indigenous land management in urban and peri-urban landscapes through a case study of Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation (BBCAC) on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. The study is distinct in that it documents the work of Kabi Kabi (Gubbi Gubbi) Traditional Owners, Australian South Sea Islanders, and historically-connected Aboriginal people in a setting that is peri-urban and urban in location and land use, and where native title has yet to be determined. This is in contrast to previous ILM research in Australia that tends to focus on rural or remote locations with large natural areas and protected lands. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews, participant observation (e.g. during monitoring activities) and analysis of secondary sources (e.g. organisational documents) between 2014 and 2015. The data shows that Indigenous land managers in urban and peri-urban landscapes work in a variety of roles, particularly when partnering with other land user groups to manage complex environmental issues. Significant challenges to their work include the effects of urban development and population growth/change, poor cross-cultural engagement with decision-makers, a growing gap for work opportunities between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous organisations, and barriers to appropriate, long-term funding and resources. There are several opportunities to overcome these challenges through existing programs such as the Indigenous Ranger Program, decolonised decision-making tools (i.e. “boundary objects”) and sustainable enterprises that draw on public, private, and customary economies (e.g. eco-cultural tourism). The research highlights the need for bottom-up, Indigenous-driven approaches to ILM on the Sunshine Coast to address land management issues in a way that delivers socio-economic and cultural co-benefits to local Aboriginal peoples.
Submitted in the fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science (Honours), University of the Sunshine Coast, 2015.