Whales deliver economic boost for Aboriginal communities | The Insight Files | Scoop.it

Whale watchers heading to the State’s far west coast are helping to deliver sustainable economic benefits for the region’s Aboriginal communities.

During the past year, around 28,000 people have visited the Head of the Bight Visitor Centre – near the Nullarbor Plain – to watch adult Southern Right Whales and their calves close to the coastline.

The Visitor Centre is on land held by the Aboriginal Lands Trust (ALT).

Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Minister Ian Hunter says the revenue generated by the Visitor Centre is helping to create opportunities for Aboriginal people in the Head of the Bight region.

“The Visitor Centre is becoming a signature tourism destination for South Australia, as the whales often swim close to the Centre’s viewing platform,” he says.

“The majority of the income generated by the Centre is invested back into repairs, maintenance, and upgrades, as well as other ALT initiatives. Much of the repair and maintenance work is undertaken by local Aboriginal people, creating sustainable job opportunities for the region’s Aboriginal communities.

“There is now a great opportunity to build on the success of the Visitor Centre by taking advantage of the 400,000 tourists that travel across the Nullarbor Plain every year.

“This part of our State is rich in Aboriginal dreaming stories and several unique species of flora and fauna including Ospreys, Wedge Tail Eagles, Blue-breasted Fairy Wrens, Scarlet-chested Parrots, wombats, several species of reptiles and snakes, and some rare species such as the native apricot (Pittosporum phylliraeoides).

“The Head of the Bight Visitor Centre has become a blueprint for future economic development initiatives managed by the Aboriginal Lands Trust,” says Minister Hunter."

The Aboriginal Lands Trust was established under the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 1966. The Act was the first in Australia to ensure that titles to existing Aboriginal Reserves were held in trust on behalf of all Aboriginal people in South Australia.

During recent consultations to review the Act, positive support has emerged for a move towards increasing the scope of the legislation to focus on economic and commercial development on Aboriginal Lands Trust land.