Aboriginal-led projects to share in more than $580,000 in regional economic development grants

Headshot of Sarah Makse
Sarah MakseGreat Southern Herald
Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan meets with the Tambellup Aboriginal Progress Association and Gnowangerup Aboriginal Corporation.
Camera IconRegional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan meets with the Tambellup Aboriginal Progress Association and Gnowangerup Aboriginal Corporation. Credit: South Coast NRM

Two Aboriginal-led native seed enterprises aiming to revegetate landscapes and grow jobs were among five Great Southern projects to share in more than $586,000 in the latest round of WA Government regional economic development grants.

The successful projects were selected from a pool of 43 applicants from across the Great Southern to diversify jobs and build economic resilience across a variety of industries.

The Gnowangerup Aboriginal Corporation and Tambellup Aboriginal Progress Association, with the support of South Coast Natural Resource Management, will share in $94,000 to grow their Seeding the Great Southern Noongar Enterprises project.

Over the past two years, the groups have built a commercial-grade seed tunnel in Tambellup and a nursery in Gnowangerup.

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The organisations aim to transition their two pilot scale seed enterprises into viable businesses collecting and propagating native seedlings for landscape restoration projects and providing training, jobs and mentorship to the Aboriginal community.

Gnowangerup Aboriginal Corporation chairman Robbie Miniter said he hoped to double their output of native seedlings and provide career advancement and mentorship to people in their ranger team aged 14-70.

“One thing is being out here on country, addressing the damage that has been done by salinity but to have our people out there putting those plants back in the ground, not only revegetates the country, but gives us a new lease on life when it comes to the battle against social and emotional wellbeing, and grief and loss within communities,” he said.

“We have communities out there struggling. COVID is one thing but social disadvantages within families is another.

“So we use this project as a stepping stone to work with local communities.

Badgebup Aboriginal Corporation will use a $62,100 grant to buy a commercial greenhouse to support its land-based carbon offset, land regeneration, bush food and cultural tourism project at the Mungart Seed Enterprises Nursery, with a goal of producing up to two million seedlings a year.

Albany-based international ceramics and pottery equipment manufacturers Venco Products will use a $190,000 grant to help buy land and build a manufacturing hub for products they will sell internationally.

The Albany Business Centre will undergo a revamp with a $50,000 grant to provide more space for start-up businesses, business workshops and training courses.

Modular home maker Aspect Modular will relocate its operations from Perth to Denmark with its $190,000 grant to help fund the purchase of industrial land for a manufacturing facility.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said there was a lot of potential for Aboriginal employment carbon farming enterprises across the State.

“We have a number of Aboriginal social enterprises that have developed seed nurseries and seed collection, making sure that we have got those companies ready to take advantage of the great flourishing of tree planting that we are going to see rolled out over the next decade across the farming areas of WA,” she said.

“We are seeing massive growth in the price of carbon credits and the interest and understanding of farmers in carbon farming and the benefits for their farm in doing this is growing every day.”

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