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Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation helping First Nations people achieve their goals

Brendan Foster -

Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation chief executive Joe Morrison believes First Nations people and community are at the heart of everything his organisation does.

For almost 30 years, the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (it was originally called the Indigenous Land Corporation) has assisted First Nations people to achieve economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits through the ownership and management of land and water.

Mr Morrison - a proud Dagoman and Mualgal man - said ILSC constantly engaged with Indigenous people and worked in partnership with them to strengthen their economic, environmental and cultural abilities.

"The ILSC Board and I are committed to a process of continuous improvement as we become a trusted partner for Indigenous people, taking the good with the bad and learning from past lessons," he told National Indigenous Times.

"Seeing the continent's first peoples achieve their goals is what drives me, and many other ILSC staff, to be partners of change in all we do."

The ILSCs provide a wide range of opportunities for Indigenous people, to increase their representation, contributions and benefits from Country.

In the last financial year, ILSC invested more than $27.9 million in partnerships with Indigenous organisations.

One of the highly successful funding programs 'Our Country Our Future' assists Indigenous people with their access and management of Country.

Mr Morrison, who became the chief executive of ILSC in 2021, said it was critical not just for Indigenous Australians but for the nation that First Nations people had access to capital to acquire their Country back and manage and develop it.

"It is important to honour the resilience and continuing connection to Country, culture and community of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia," he said.

"When the ILSC facilitates the return of Country to its rightful owners, we are supporting Indigenous communities in their journeys towards self-determination. Ultimately, this is the reason, and reward, for the ILSC's existence.

"I acknowledge the decisions the ILSC makes today, particularly relating to the return of Country, will impact the lives of generations to come."

The ILSC also aims to secure authentic employment opportunities and training for First Nations people through the Real Jobs Program (RJP).

Since 2007, the ILSC has supported unemployed Indigenous people in the Northern Territory to work in agribusiness, tourism, and healthy country/conservation sectors.

During 2022-2023 RJP helped 239 Indigenous people find jobs while training and educating a further 202 participants through various sessions, workshops and activities.

"For the past 17 years, the Real Jobs Program has offered Indigenous people in the Northern Territory on-Country targeted opportunities and training to foster growth and knowledge in different industries," Mr Morrison said.

This has resulted in economic empowerment in an authentic environment – allowing individuals to understand and appreciate their own skills and strengths and believe in their own capabilities.

"This is essential for First Nations peoples and their journey towards self-determination – which is something the ILSC strives to be a facilitator of."

In June, the ILSC launched its latest National Indigenous Land and Sea Strategy (NILSS) which will help shape the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia.

Mr Morrison said the NILSS was the voice for our people.

"It outlines their aspirations for their future in their own words," he said.

"The strategy is vital in delivering the ILSC's goals to: increase traditional ownership by providing better support for First Nations peoples to manage Country their way; strengthen Indigenous leadership across current and emerging sectors; expand and diversify the Indigenous economy.

"It follows the ILSC's largest ever, nationwide consultation, spanning over 1000 hours, involving hundreds of people across dozens of communities.

"This engagement was genuine and invaluable in shaping the future priorities of First Nations peoples all over our Country."

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