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Malachi speaks for traditional owners on reef management


Malachi Johnson on boat over the reef

Last year Partners on Country* (PeopleIN’s joint venture with On Country Business) were invited by the Department of Environment and Science to recruit for an independent expert panel to advise government on future protection of the Great Barrier Reef, it’s marine life and surrounding waters.


Malachi Johnson, a proud Gooreng Gooreng man, former sea ranger and now TUMRA (Traditional Use of marine Resources Agreements) Project Manager, was uniquely qualified for the role.


Twelve months after commencing with the Reef 2050 Advisory Committee we checked in with him to learn how work is progressing and the role he has been able to play.

“Being part of the Reef 2050 Advisory Committee is important as entities like this lead to self-determination for Traditional Owners – to having control and a say about what is best for country,” Malachi said.


“The committee was charged with developing a Traditional Owner Implementation Plan that’s now been legislatively accepted. All activity on the reef must align to this plan and everyone working on sea country must abide by it.


“For me personally, I’ve made it my life’s mission to make sure we preserve and conserve and to educate and share the traditional knowledge of Gooreng Gooreng Sea Country.

“We hold more than 100,000 years of Traditional knowledge and custodianship. Western science isn’t superior to Traditional knowledge and we must respect what each can bring to the battle against climate change and ensuring we have sustainability.”

This year’s Reconciliation Week theme “Be a voice for generations” recognises the history, stories and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures across time immemorial. It celebrates the right of First Nations peoples to make decisions about our lives, land community. The work of the Reef 2050 Advisory Committee demonstrates how collaboration and understanding can lead to outcomes which show respect and meet the needs of all segments of the community.


*Partners On Country is a joint venture between PeopleIN and On Country Business, a group of leading industry professionals within the Indigenous engagement arena.

Combining strong Traditional Owner relationships with a national recruitment enterprise they exist to strengthen local communities through better access to impactful employment. By connecting First Nations people to the best local opportunities, while helping employers to scale quickly, they can improve outcomes for everyone who lives and works On Country.



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