Amid conversations on climate change and developing a sustainable future, The First Nations Clean Energy Network fights for the rights and elevates the voices of First Peoples.
The First Nations Clean Energy Network (the Network) supports communities and businesses in developing clean energy projects with First Nations people at the heart.
Projects will seek to provide employment opportunities and economic benefits, along with protecting sacred sites, empowering Native Title rights, and caring for Country.
The Network developments will range from small community-based projects to large scale, export focussed initiatives.
Executive Director of Original Power, and a key player in the development of the Network, Karrina Nolan said the Network ensures that First Nations people are at the frontline of the “clean energy revolution”.
“We’re ready to partner with governments and industry to develop clean energy projects that will deliver benefits for all Australians,” said the Yorta Yorta woman.
“Indigenous land title is now recognised over more than half the Australian continent, with rich renewable energy resources including sun and wind power. As demand drives new renewable energy zones, our consent will be more critical than ever.
“We’ll provide the networks, training and resources so we sit powerfully at the table and negotiate just benefits for our communities, while helping to address climate change.”
Nolan enforced that the Network supports grassroots communities experiencing “extreme temperatures and expensive, unreliable power, to install clean energy projects”.
Launching at the Desert Peoples Centre, Desert Knowledge Precinct in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) on Wednesday, partners of the Network include National Native Title Council, Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, Smart Energy Council, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at ANU, Clean Energy Council, Renewable Energy Alliance, Impact Investment Partners, Community Power Agency, Lowitja Institute and Climate Council.
The Maritime Union Australia (MUA) is also a partner of the Network.
MUA National Indigenous Officer, author and proud Torres Strait Islander man, Thomas Mayor sits on the Network’s Steering Group.
“Forward planning is critical so First Nations workers have the skills, training and opportunity to take part in the thriving, clean energy industry,” he said.
“First Nations communities will be ignored if we don’t get organised. This network will be crucial to our people being heard about employment, training and participation in the clean energy industry.”
Norman Jupurrurla Frank, Senior Warumungu traditional owner from Tennant Creek and recent co-author of research into energy insecurity and Indigenous health, cemented the link between health and energy for First Nations peoples.
“For too long, our communities have been forced to rely on dirty, expensive and unreliable power that is undermining our people’s health and wellbeing,” he said.
“Clean energy is the medicine that our people need.”
“I dream of having solar on every house in town. We can get our people trained up to bring cheap energy from the sun, which unlike diesel or gas, will never run out and won’t hurt our country.”
The Network is built on three key pillars: community, industry partnerships and policy reform.
It will empower communities to drive the development of clean energy projects, establish an innovation hub which promotes the implementation of the best practice principles for land use, and increases First Nations participation in industry and advocate for reform around renewable energy.
By Rachael Knowles