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First Nations Clean Energy Strategy

The Federal Government and all state and territory Energy Ministers agreed to the co-design of a First Nations Clean Energy Strategy to ensure that First Nations people help drive the energy transformation. 

It was an opportunity to review laws, regulation and policy, to lift barriers and implement regulatory reform, and to stoke government investment in innovation, technology and infrastructure, so that First Nations people can share in and benefit from the benefits of the renewable energy transition.

The government had recognised that "First Nations people are important partners in the Clean Energy Transformation. Many First Nations communities are experiencing the impacts of climate changes as well as unreliable and expensive power. First Nations people have strong local and cultural knowledge, including management of Country, that should inform how Australia transforms its energy systems to achieve net zero emissions."

They said the Strategy aims to identify ways to support First Nations aspirations to:

  • participate in and benefit from the clean energy transformation
  • ensure access for reliable clean energy for all Australians
  • ensure First Nations cultural heritage, knowledge and connection to land and sea Country is respected
  • government and industry create opportunities to build deeper collaboration, consensus and new ways of work with First Nations people.

 

First step - Roundtables

The First Nations Clean Energy Strategy began development in early 2022 and involved roundtables and consultations in every State and Territory with hundreds attending throughout the year.

  • Port Hedland, Western Australia – 27 and 28 March 2023
  • Alice Springs, Northern Territory – 16 and 17 May 2023
  • Canberra, ACT – 24 August 2023
  • Cairns, Queensland – 28 and 29 August 2023
  • Adelaide, South Australia – 11 and 12 September 2023
  • Fremantle, Western Australia – 30 and 31 October 2023
  • Geelong, Victoria – 27 and 28 November 2023
  • Wollongong, NSW – 7 and 8 December 2023
  • Hobart, Tasmania – 15 and 16 February 2024

The roundtables brought together representatives from the First Nations community, the Network, industry, key government departments and Federal, State and Territory representatives, lawyers and policy experts.

These roundtables were an opportunity to come up with recommendations for actions, policies and programs that the Federal Government should implement as part of the Strategy.

 

To inform roundtable participants, the First Nations Clean Energy Network produced policy overview papers for each jurisdiction:

 

Both the Department and the First Nations Clean Energy Network captured key learnings from each roundtables.

Northern Territory

Western Australia

ACT

Queensland

South Australia

Victoria

NSW

Tasmania

The First Nations Clean Energy Network assisted the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water with the roundtables.

 

Second step: Establishment of First Nations Clean Energy and Emissions Reduction Advisory Committee

The Department established the non-statutory First Nations Clean Energy and Emissions Reduction Advisory Committee on 30 April 2023. 

The committee advises the Minister and Department on First Nations perspectives on Clean Energy and Climate Change and has the role of approving the final Strategy.

 

Third step - Public consultation

On 14 November 2023, the Department released the First Nations Clean Energy Strategy Consultation Paper, seeking views on a number of goals and objectives, underpinned by five guiding principles:

  • Access to reliable clean energy is a human right

  • First Nations peoples will self-determine how they lead, participate in and benefit from the clean energy transformation

  • First Nations peoples are stewards and Custodians of Country, their connection is ongoing and enduring

  • Cultural heritage should be recognised, protected and celebrated

  • Everyone is responsible for building genuine partnerships and collaboration, underpinned by monitoring and reporting

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water sought feedback by 9 February 2024.

The Department received 90 submissions now published on their website, including a submission from the First Nations Clean Energy Network.

 

Fourth step - Final report

The First Nations Clean Energy Strategy is due for release mid-2024 and the Federal government has indicated it will be implemented in the fourth quarter.