The Federal Government has released a consultation paper that is set to inform the development of an Australian First Nations Clean Energy Strategy.
This paper builds on a series of six roundtables held with First Nations communities over eight months as well as input from the First Nations Clean Energy and Emissions Reduction Advisory Committee.
The strategy is intended to drive investment, cooperation and lasting benefits for Indigenous communities across the country.
Remote Indigenous communities are among the most energy insecure in the world.
Through the first stage of engagement, the following priorities were highlighted:
- Making sure First Nations Australians have access to reliable and affordable energy, wherever they live across the country
- Prioritising access to skills and workforce development to foster meaningful economic participation and First Nations’ business opportunities
- Providing practical support so First Nations people can be equal partners in the transformation
The strategy will target fairer access to cleaner, cheaper energy for Indigenous households – along with reduced diesel usage, cheaper finance and more skilled employment in remote areas.
The Federal Government is already partnering with First Nations Australians to improve access to cheaper, cleaner energy and ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are an active part of the energy transformation.
The Federal Government is investing $83.8 million in the First Nations Community Microgrids program to support deployment of microgrids in First Nations communities to improve energy affordability and reliability and reduce emissions.
It has also committed $2 million to help First Nations communities engage with hydrogen project developers for its Hydrogen Headstart program.
Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, said that Indigenous Australians are important partners in the clean energy transformation, and that they deserve access to cleaner, cheaper energy – and energy security.
“By providing the opportunities for First Nations communities to share their perspectives, government and industry are better equipped to ensure the First Nations Clean Energy Strategy delivers for Indigenous Australians,” Mr Bowen said.
Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, said that the Federal Government is ensuring First Nations people have a real say in Australia’s energy future and are not locked out of the clean energy transformation.
“First Nations people have strong local and cultural knowledge, including management of Country, and this can and should inform how Australia transforms its energy systems to achieve net zero by 2050.”
Member and co-lead of the First Nations Clean Energy and Emissions Reduction Advisory Committee, Dr Kate George, said, “The creation of a genuine First Nations Clean Energy Strategy and improving collaboration with government and industry sectors will be fundamental to securing support for Australia’s once in a lifetime clean energy transformation”.
Member and co-lead of the First Nations Clean Energy and Emissions Reduction Advisory Committee, Travis Thomas, said that the strategy has the potential to support the four priority reforms at the centre of the Closing the Gap agreement with a focus on transforming government organisations to work better with and for First Nations people.
“It could also improve First Nations people’s access to data and information to make informed decisions, and build the community-controlled sector,” Mr Thomas said.
“This can be looked upon as a moment, which does not come often, which if the involved industry, government, First Nations and the broader community approach in a reciprocal, considered manner, can truly change opportunities in involved First Nations communities.”
Responses to the consultation paper can be made through the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s Consultation Hub: https://consult.dcceew.gov.au/first-nations-clean-energy-strategy-consu…