Cultural partnerships at the ‘HART’ of the Hunter

Soil Conservation Service is pleased to announce the commencement of the first Hunter Aboriginal Riverkeeper Team.

The Hunter Aboriginal Riverkeeper Team, or HART, is a new initiative in the Upper Hunter region designed to help educate and connect local Aboriginal people and landholders with the aim of improving the environment.

Based in Singleton and Scone, the HART team consists of four Aboriginal Conservation Trainees, led by an Aboriginal Project Manager and supported by an Aboriginal Team Supervisor.

Dan Brown, Hunter Area Manager, Soil Conservation Service, said that the four-year HART program supports trainees to undertake a Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management and gain valuable practical experience along the way.

“Through daily on-the-job training, HART team members will learn the fundamentals of bush regeneration and land management, in addition to formal training and participation in Aboriginal cultural activities,” Mr Brown said.

“Trainees will work together to implement conservation works on privately owned lands where Local Land Services has established landholder agreements.”

Traditional conservation land management training and Aboriginal cultural components are central to the HART project. This includes learning about local Aboriginal culture, history and values, Aboriginal land management techniques, as well as Aboriginal heritage sites in or near their worksites.

“HART aims to deliver improved socio-economic and educational outcomes for Indigenous people, as well as positive cultural, social and environmental outcomes in the Hunter region,” Mr Brown said.

The program is a result of inter-agency collaboration between the Office of Environment and Heritage, Local Land Services and Soil Conservation Service and aims to establish, strengthen and promote partnerships, connection and engagement between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. It is based on the successful Aboriginal Riverkeeper Team project undertaken on behalf of the Georges River Combined Councils Committee.

The program will also contribute towards the national goals relating to Aboriginal Australians and assist with Closing the Gap.

Please note that the HART Program officially concluded in 2022.