Nhulunbuy went home with the Overall win for the Keep Australia Beautiful, Australian Clean Beaches Awards 2014.
Its residents, including the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation, have taken on responsibility for managing the huge amount of beach litter, including lost fishing nets and marine debris that washes up on the beaches of Cape Arnhem.
Australian Clean Beaches judge Averil Bones said “residents of Nhulunbuy are faced with the challenge not only of caring for and maintaining the beach closest to the town itself, but also the considerable work required to manage and control washed up litter on Cape Arnhem.”
Nhulunbuy also won the award for Dame Phyllis Frost Litter Prevention. The organisation said the role of the area’s traditional owners in providing effective stewardship of Arnhem Land cannot be overstated. Newly emerging challenges, predominantly associated with the loss of a major employer in the town, are likely to see greater pressures put on members of the community already active in managing the considerable litter that arrives in the area as a result of ocean currents.
“The commitment and determination of the residents to take on such an overwhelming litter challenge, and their success in maintaining an active program of litter collection under such extreme circumstances, in particular remoteness, scale and climate, is truly inspiring,” Ms Bones went on to say.
Through the Clean Beaches Awards Program, Keep Australia Beautiful share expert knowledge and experience to empower those who care about our beaches and waterways to actively work towards a cleaner, more sustainable marine environment.
Ms Bones said “visiting the five national finalists and learning about all the fantastic work was a real privilege. I was really impressed by the time and effort contestants put into the submissions and site visits, and by the broad range of groups involved in keeping the beaches and waterways clean.”
Keep Australia Beautiful Council Northern territory CEO Heimo Schober said “The Dhimurru Rangers are strongly connected to the local beach environment as were their forefathers thousands of years before them. They have a comprehensive approach and ability to lead the way to sustainable futures.”
“The actions of the Dhimurru Rangers increases regional pride and esteem and certainly creates opportunities for Indigenous tourism promotion around Nhulunbuy. We are so proud that they have been recognised and acknowledged for their contribution towards coast care,” Mr Schober said.
The Rangers encourage participation and broad interaction between various community groups that achieves improved networking opportunities with increased actions, better understanding creating a stronger regional community and better environment with continuous improvement.
National Chief Executive Officer of Keep Australia Beautiful Peter McLean said “in all of the five finalists, it was obvious that a special spirit emerges where a community has a strong and enduring connection to its local environment. I know that the beaches at Whyalla, Raspins Beach, Nhulunbuy, Fingal Head and Rainbow Bay will continue to be beautiful, vibrant and inspiring places to live and visit.”
Northern Territory Minister for Environment Peter Chandler said “this was a fantastic result for the Dhimurru Rangers and a fantastic result for the entire Territory.”
“I’ve known for a long time the work the rangers are doing in the Nhulunbuy region, I’m just so happy they have received this well-deserved recognition,” Mr Chandler said.
“It’s one thing to win the Territory category, but to go on and take the national honours is something really special. The Rangers and the Nhulunbuy community should be very proud.”
“Nhulunbuy and the East Arnhem region are some of the most beautiful areas of the Northern Territory and it’s important that they’re maintained for future generations to enjoy.”
The awards event was followed by a tour of Currumbin, who were the 2013 Australian Clean Beaches winner.