With the help of Indigenous landowners, an aid to navigation (AtoN) on Goods (Palilag) Island in the Torres Strait has had works completed
The Goods Island front light, which sits adjacent to the Prince of Wales Channel, helps illuminate an extremely busy shipping route with over 3000 vessels transiting through each year.
In 2018, a meeting was set between AMSA and the Kaurareg people to discuss upcoming works on various AtoNs sites within the area. This marked the beginning of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Agreement between AMSA and the Kaurareg Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (KNTAC).
The agreement covers the protection and management of all Aboriginal cultural heritage at relevant AtoN sites.
Kaurareg elder and KNTAC Director Enid Tom said she was pleased with how the works went for the Goods Island project, with two Kaurareg peoples in place to monitor if the works unearthed any aboriginal artefacts or cultural heritage; such as a burial site.
“It went according to how we both planned it, it was good that Kaurareg were consulted, our views were considered and both parties set the plan for the works, we felt like we were involved as a partnership,” Enid Tom said.
“It really sets a precedence for other organisations and we appreciate AMSA doing such. Sitting down and discussing matters with traditional landowners shows respect to Kaurareg elders and that is what AMSA is doing.
“I am hoping the partnership we have with AMSA can continue for generations to come.”
AMSA Principal Advisor for AtoN Engineering, Mr Greg Hansen, said that for ‘high impact’ works, such as the clearing or removal of vegetation, excavation or surface disturbance works; Kaurareg monitors were present on site.
“By continually building this relationship, AMSA’s AtoN engineering team is gaining a greater understanding of the Kaurareg People and the cultural heritage significance of the area,” Mr Hansen said.
“In the initial stages of planning, AMSA consulted with the Kaurareg people, with a cultural heritage field survey being completed to determine appropriate site access points as well as the cultural and environmental controls that needed to be implemented during the works.
“Following a procurement process, AMSA awarded the contract to a Townsville based company for the works. The contractors completed an Indigenous cultural induction workshop prior to the site works commencing and a Kaurareg monitor was on site during all high impact works.
“I have personally gained a lot from this experience and am looking forward to working with Enid and the Kaurareg landowners again in future.”
The Goods Island works were completed in September 2020 and involved improving safety for maintenance staff by building a helipad safety net perimeter as well as a formed path to the AtoN.