File(s) under permanent embargo

The challenges of addressing an Aboriginal responsibility for Country in land-use and national park planning: a South East Queensland case study

conference contribution
posted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by R Cole-Hawthorne, David Jones, D Low Choy
This paper presents research insights on the challenges that Australian Aboriginal communities living within the South East Queensland (SEQ) metropolitan region face in seeking to exercise their contemporary responsibilities to care for Country in land-use and national park planning. A case study design was adopted to analyse the incorporation of two Aboriginal communities connections to Country in state-based planning systems, and to explore the responsibilities Aboriginal communities ethically seek to adhere to in maintaining Country from their own understandings.
Country, from an Aboriginal understanding, involves a deep ecological, cultural, economic and social comprehension of ‘law’ guided by a responsibility for Country. Otherwise known as customary law and custom, Country is that which both Aboriginals and their communities are intrinsically connected to. Country is the moral value that guides Aboriginal obligation to care and this obligation could well conflict
with mainstream contemporary Western management policy and legislation.
This research draws on insights from Quandamooka Country (North Stradbroke Island) and Jagera Country (Brisbane City and Ipswich), located within the Brisbane metropolitan region in South East Queensland of Australia. During this research, it was concluded that, in both Quandamooka Country and Jagera Country, the respective Owners are operating within a sphere of increasingly complex challenges that impact upon their ability to conserve and have recognized the values of their obligations to Country care in planning. Common themes occurring on Country identified in this research included issues relating to a neglect of care to maintain Country by planners and government officials, and interactions that prevent Traditional Owners from having their obligation of caring for Country on their terms expressed through land-use planning legislation. Political agendas of the Queensland State that influences the interactions of planners and government with Traditional Owners were also concluded to be detrimental, and to damaging trust, ongoing discussions and understandings. These insights indicate that Aboriginal communities are facing an increasing conflicting range of perceptions and comprehensions that are hindering the expression and execution of their moral responsibility embodied in their deep ecological law to care for Country in Western planning legislative obligations. It illustrates that the responsibilities given to practicing planners and government officials to care for Country under Western law are commonly not adhered to It concludes with the suggestion that for some progress to recognize an Aboriginal responsibility to Country in planning, state-Traditional Owner relations and collaboration is now needed to help transcend the legislative challenges underpinning Western planning law.



International Sustainable Development Research Society Conference Tipping Point (21st : 2015 : Geelong, Victoria)


1 - 10


International Sustainable Development Research Society


Geelong, Victoria

Place of publication

[Geelong, Vic.]

Start date


End date




Indigenous content

This research output may contain the names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. We apologise for any distress that may occur.



Publication classification

E Conference publication; E1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2015, ISDRS

Title of proceedings

ISDRS 2015 : Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity. Proceedings of 21st International Sustainable Development Research Society Conference

Usage metrics