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The CEO of the Northern Land Council, Joe Morrison, talks about the challenges and opportunities facing indigenous communities in the Northern Territory and the absolute value of the provisions of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 in shaping that future. Joe will also discuss the history of constant opposition to the Act from fringe conservative forces in the NT and the need for protection of the legislation and Indigenous people against a backdrop of pressure for unsustainable and unethical development of Northern Australia.Joe Morrison was born and raised in Katherine and has Dagoman and Torres Strait Islander heritage.
After growing up and schooling in Katherine, he gained a BA from the University of Sydney in Natural Resource Management and set about working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to establish land and sea management efforts across northern Australia.
Mr Morrison’s first job after leaving school was at the NLC from 1992-94. He worked first at the old mechanical workshop at Coconut Grove, moved into administration, then at the NLC’s Registry Office.
He then moved onto Greening Australia where he helped to establish the Aboriginal Landcare Education Program — designing living areas on Aboriginal communities.
In 1998, Mr Morrison began work with NT Parks and Wildlife as a land management facilitator, establishing land and sea ranger groups in south-east Arnhem Land, the VRD and Barkly — many of them now under the management of the NLC, but some now independent.
Two years later he became founding Chief Executive Officer of the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance. Mr Morrison nurtured the development of NAILSMA from a small unit within a large western science-focused research institution, to the nationally recognised Aboriginal institution operating across tropical northern Australia.
Mr Morrison has an ambitious agenda for his new role as NLC CEO, connecting with the NLC’s constituency to reinvigorate the importance of maintaining control over the lands and waters that Aboriginal people have fought hard for and to work towards appropriate social, cultural and economic development that creates lasting employment opportunities in a post determination era.
Mr Morrison has authored and co-authored many articles relating to Indigenous rights, management of country, economic development and of northern development.
He has a young family and has lived in Darwin since 2001.