Kamilaroi man Joe Martin-Jard has officially taken the reins at the NT’s Northern Land Council (NLC).

Mr Martin-Jard who had been Acting CEO for the past six months following the departure of former CEO Marion Scrymgour was announced as the permanent CEO in December.

The NLC is one of four land councils in the Territory and acts as a voice for more than 50,000 Indigenous people, three quarters of whom live in remote and regional areas.

Mr Martin-Jard who has taken up a three year term, recognised the efforts and passion of Ms Scrymgour to whom he worked as Deputy CEO when joining the land council initially.

Prior to joining the NLC, he was CEO of the Central Land Council.

Mr Martin-Jard said while the COVID-19 pandemic had meant a big focus of the council’s time and resources were being put into responding to the situation and advocating for those living in the top end, the council had still been able to carry out its core business of assisting Aboriginal people to acquire and manage their traditional lands and seas.

He said responding to the pandemic was also about protecting Traditional Owners and the knowledge about, and connections to Country, describing the knowledge they hold as being like “libraries full of information”.

The NLC is expecting to have a busy 2022 as it continues to distribute the $36 million in funding previously allocated as part of the Northern Territory Indigenous Economic Stimulus Package.

Mr Martin-Jard said he’d been impressed by the number of entrepreneurs putting forward innovative projects to be considered for stimulus package funding.

In 2022 the NLC will also continue work in regard to the management of sea country for which the High Court has recognised Traditional Owners’ rights to exclusive access to water.

Under the Blue Mud Bay decision the right of Traditional Owners to control access to 85 per cent of the NT coastline, including the intertidal zone, was recognised.

The Chair of the Northern Land Council, Mr Samuel Bush-Blanasi said Mr Martin-Jard’s appointment would ensure stability and consistency in the management of NLC.

By Aleisha Orr