A consultation paper has been released by the Australian Federal Government on the development of Australia’s First Nations Clean Energy Strategy, which aims to provide remote First Nations communities with access to cheaper, and cleaner energy.
The consultation paper was built on a series of six roundtables held with First Nations communities across the past eight months as well as input from the First Nations Clean Energy and Emissions Reduction Advisory Committee.
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 that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are an active part of the energy transformation. It is also investing $83.8 million in the First Nations Community Microgrids program, which will help support deployment of microgrids in First Nations communities to improve energy affordability and reliability and reduce emissions.
The Federal Government has also committed $2 million to help First Nations communities engage with hydrogen project developers for our Hydrogen Headstart program.
Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, said that First Nation communities are important partners in the clean energy transition.
“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 the Australian Government is ensuring that First Nations people have a say in the clean energy transformation, and that they are not locked out.
“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, Travis Thomas, said “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.”
“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. Submissions are open from 14 November 2023 – 31 January 2024.