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Connections to Sea Country - Aboriginal People of Coastal NSW survey


Published 20 May 2024 The Connections to Sea Country – Aboriginal Peoples of Coastal NSW Survey (Wave 1) is the first survey of its kind, aimed at improving our understanding of Aboriginal peoples' cultural connections to Sea Country and the impacts on these connections.
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Overview

The Connections to Sea Country – Aboriginal Peoples of Coastal NSW Survey (Wave 1) is the first survey of its kind, aimed at improving our understanding of Aboriginal peoples' cultural connections to Sea Country and the impacts on these connections.

This survey is the first of what is intended to be a continuing conversation about the importance of and responsibilities for maintaining a healthy Sea Country.

Why is this project important?

Historically, there has been no systematic monitoring of the cultural dimensions of the NSW marine estate. Such monitoring is essential to realising the vision of the Marine Estate Management Strategy (and associated Marine Integrated Monitoring Program).

We acknowledge and respect the connection and knowledge held by Aboriginal peoples of NSW Sea Country areas and recognise that we all have a responsibility to maintain a healthy Sea Country. The survey allows us to monitor the cultural dimensions of Sea Country.

We need to understand this to address the priority threats and risks facing Sea Country.

The survey findings form a useful base for building a shared understanding about the importance of and cultures related to Sea Country, as well as concerns that have been raised. It is only through learning and growing together that we can ensure a thriving Sea Country now, and for generations to come.

What are we doing?

  • Collecting data to improve our understanding of Aboriginal peoples’ cultural connections to Sea Country and the impacts of these connections every 3 years to track spatial and temporal trends in community wellbeing associated with Sea Country.

What have we achieved so far?

  • We have developed a methodology to collect long-term data for Aboriginal Peoples of coastal NSW that allows for analysis of spatial and temporal trends in community wellbeing.
  • Aboriginal communities in 11 locations were invited to complete a survey that was co-designed with DPI and Ipsos Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Unit and delivered by local Aboriginal people.
  • Ethics approval for this research project was granted by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Research Ethics Committee.
  • We engaged with over 560 Aboriginal peoples that aligned with the following Aboriginal Nations along the NSW coast:

Map of NSW

What we learned

  • Sea Country is essential to cultural connection and key to the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal Peoples in New South Wales.
  • The health of Sea Country is essential to the health of Aboriginal Peoples and our community at large. Sea Country is foundational to the identity of Aboriginal people as individuals, their families and communities in maintaining cultural connections now and into the future.
  • Living on Sea Country gives places and spaces to spend quality time with family and community. In turn, we have a responsibility to protect Sea Country from current and future environmental threats and impacts.
  • The report showed that Aboriginal people surveyed had a number of concerns about the current health of Sea Country.
  • We need to work together to preserve Sea Country for future generations and do so in a respectful, collaborative and sustainable way.
  • This survey is the first of what is intended to be a continuing conversation on the importance of and responsibilities for maintaining healthy Sea Country.
Resources

Background

The Cultural monitoring project sits under Initiative 8 of the Marine Estate Management Strategy (PDF, 12612.84 KB).  A key component of this project was the development of a Community Wellbeing Framework (the Framework).

The Framework aims to provide a consistent and robust approach to monitoring the community benefits of the marine estate and threats to these benefits and to fill key social, cultural and economic knowledge gaps identified in the statewide Threat and Risk Assessment (statewide TARA).

The NSW Marine Estate Community Wellbeing Survey Reports (Wave 1) were recently released and are the first application of this Framework. We surveyed over 2,100 coastal residents, over 850 youths aged 14 to 17, and over 1,100 coastal visitors.

Locations


Local government areas - Statewide

Lead agency

Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries

Partners

  • DCCEEW - Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water
  • Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure
  • Transport for NSW

More information

Connections to Sea Country – Aboriginal Peoples of Coastal NSW Summary Report (Wave 1)

Factsheet

NSW Marine Estate Community Wellbeing Survey Report. Connections to Sea Country - Aboriginal people of Coastal NSW (Wave 1)

The cultural monitoring project is funded under the Marine Estate Management Strategy under initiative 8, to enhance social, cultural and economic benefits.

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