Butchulla Men’s Business Aboriginal Association President Glen Miller with members Darren Blake, Eddie Jackson, Rod MacDonald and Mark Singho are protecting traditional hunting laws in their native country in the Great Sandy Strait and Fraser Island. Photo Lachie Millard
Butchulla Men’s Business Aboriginal Association President Glen Miller with members Darren Blake, Eddie Jackson, Rod MacDonald and Mark Singho are protecting traditional hunting laws in their native country in the Great Sandy Strait and Fraser Island. Photo Lachie Millard

How land will give Butchulla men new lease on life

HISTORY has been made with the signing of a State Government lease which gives the Butchulla Men's Business Aboriginal Association unfettered access to traditional land for the first time.

The document, signed in August this year, gave the group a lease over part of the former Raven's Hill cattle property, which fronts the Great Sandy Strait.

The lease provides the group with the ability to conduct traditionally-based activities for men and boys that directly relate to their culture.

Previously, it had been impossible for Butchulla men to undertake any sort of traditional land-based activity, due to the fact that Butchulla men did not own or control any of their traditional country.

The new lease will allows Butchulla men to begin the long journey of bringing back those traditional practices, which have been put on hold because of not having a place to exercise them, BMBAA president Glen Miller said.

The notion of a lease has been in the back of Mr Miller's mind, ever since they began using Raven's Hill as the venue for their Rites of Passage camps for boys and fathers back in 2018.

In August 2019, Glen wrote to Minister Leeanne Enoch, requesting a lease be created and granted to BMBAA.

Butchulla Mens Business Aboriginal Association President Glen Miller is protecting traditional hunting laws in his native country in the Great Sandy Strait and Fraser Island. Photo Lachie Millard
Butchulla Mens Business Aboriginal Association President Glen Miller is protecting traditional hunting laws in his native country in the Great Sandy Strait and Fraser Island. Photo Lachie Millard

With support from Maryborough State member Bruce Saunders, Minister Enoch championed the request through the Department of Environment and Science and saw the advantages of providing Butchulla men with the opportunity to be in control of their future, Mr Miller said.

This action was also strongly supported by Queenland Parks and Wildlife Service staff who had been working with BMBAA over the past five years to assist Butchulla men to have access to their traditional land.

BMBAA has a strong vision for what the land can and will provide for not only Butchulla men and boys, but also the wider community, Mr Miller said.

Activities planned include annual Rites of Passage camps for boys and their fathers - teaching traditional land management techniques, including traditional burning methods - creation of a Traditional Bora Ring for ceremonies - social gatherings for men and boys and ensuring that feral plants and animals are kept under control.

The Department of Environment and Science acknowledged that the BMBAA's proposed use of the land was a unique offering, which could only be provided by Butchulla men who had the authority under Aboriginal lore to undertake traditional ceremonies and provide educational activities and that would deliver substantial cultural and social benefits to current and future generations of Butchulla males, the Butchulla elder said.

Mr Miller thanked the Queensland Government and Minister Enoch for the landmark Agreement.

"We would also like to acknowledge the support of the Member for Maryborough, Bruce Saunders and Peter Wright and his team from the local Maryborough QPWS office, for their ongoing support."

"This is a momentous occasion. We are the first and only Aboriginal group to be the beneficiaries of a lease of this nature and we are determined to make it a success."