Community planning with the Lama Lama people
Over a fifteen-year period, the Lama Lama people have been weaving planning into the fabric of their decision-making at the community level. Gavin Bassani, Chairman of the Lama Lama Land Trust reflects on this process and shares how, “Our plan tells a really good story for our project partners, now and into the future, about what we are already involved in, what we’d like the future to look like, who we are and what things are important to us…”
Who we are
The Lama Lama people are the traditional owners for lands extending for several hundred kilometres around Princess Charlotte Bay, Cape York Peninsula, in Far North Queensland. Their country extends from the plains at the foothills of the Great Dividing Range to the coast and includes islands north of Princess Charlotte Bay.
Lama Lama people have been granted freehold title over almost all their traditional lands under the Aboriginal Land Act. Gavin Bassani, Chairperson for the Lama Lama Land Trust says, “It has taken several years. In 1982 we were granted permission to occupy a small parcel of land at Port Stewart and in 1990 an official handover occurred. And most recently Cliff Islands south east of Port Stewart were returned.” The impact of this land handover, he elaborates, “now presents us with opportunities for economic development, the establishment of Natural Resource and Cultural Management Programs over land & sea country and putting into place Joint-Management arrangements with the Queensland Government for two National Parks”.
Planning for a future
From 1996-1997, a detailed community plan for Yintjingga (Port Stewart) was prepared by the Lama Lama community with the support of the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT). This project was an extensive planning exercise, done at a time when infrastructure and services at Yintjingga were very limited. The plan outlined what was needed to establish a permanent community.
Several years after, Gavin reflects, “a lot has been achieved since our first community plan. It provided a strong foundation for much of our work, activities, infrastructure and achievements on country since 1997. We are proud of our achievements and the work of all our people.”
How we get there
Today, the Lama Lama Land Trust and the newly-established Yintjingga Aboriginal Corporation represent the Lama Lama people and coordinate activities on country. Gavin relates, “independently coordinating & managing our traditional estate poses some challenges, so last year, the Trust decided to carry out a second community planning exercise to reassess our plans for the future and how best to organise ourselves. Again, we asked CAT to help us facilitate planning workshops and meetings and prepare a Community Plan report”.
The 2009 Lama Lama Country: Port Stewart (Yintjingga) Community Plan project aimed to assist Lama Lama people reflect on their achievements and talk about their plans for the next five years. It focused on what they would like to see happen on country and what things they have to do to make them happen. The project was funded by the National Heritage Trust (NHT) with in-kind contributions from CAT.
A lot was discussed during planning workshops and people shared many ideas. The people thought specifically about: their plans for economic development; protecting the environment; ways to deal with social issues and keeping culture strong; maintaining well-being; keeping Lama Lama people happy, strong, healthy and building on our spiritual strength. One of the main things talked about was an overall vision for Lama Lama people, how we would like our future to be and some values to guide us in decision-making and planning. Gavin relates, “Our plan tells a really good story for our project partners, now and into the future, about what we are already involved in and what we’d like the future to look like… who we are, what things are important to us…”
Our Lama Lama Vision – how we’d like our future to be
Our Vision is to be standing on country together as one Lama Lama Community. We are strong families. Proud of who we are. Confident in who we are. Proud of one another.
The Values that guide us
- We respect the land and all of our sacred places.
- We value our families, our people, and our communities.
- We contribute ideas to each other.
- We respect our elders.
- We are proud of our culture and our traditions and we welcome others with pride and with confidence to experience and respect it.
- Land, sea, people and families are core to everything we do.
Outcomes of the Planning Process
Since the planning project, with support of their key project partners like CAT, QLD Department of Environment and Resource Management, Working on Country and Balkanu, the Lama Lama people are making strong progress.
This year they are already working on:
- Getting the Working on Country Running Creek Nature Refuge Program established and started.
- Upgrades to community infrastructure including: a Bushlight upgrade, improvements to the Ranger Station Building and surrounds.
- Developing a Joint-Management Agreement withQueenslandParks and Wildlife Services for the management of Lama LamaNational Park. This is the first of its kind in Queensland.
- Applying for funds to plan for and manage Sea Country.
- Developing a natural and cultural resource management plan across the land trust estate.
- Extending this Community Plan, to look at infrastructure needs across other settlement areas – not just Port Stewart.
The future for the Lama Lama People will be one of progress, continued planning and development. Gavin concludes, “we now have control of all of our entire clan estate, starting fromMassey Riverto the north, taking in Silver Plains, Annie River in the south to Marina Plains. We now have to work together to develop opportunities that arise now, and in the future. Which means all Lama Lama people, have to be involved, get back to country and be proud of themselves and our elders who have fought hard for this to be realised.”