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Ngaarda Media: Pilbara First Nations people offered say on Australia's renewable future

Next week, community members in the Pilbara will be asked for their input into a plan for First Nations people to play a central role in the transition to renewable energy.

Last year, state and federal governments agreed to co-design a First Nations Clean Energy Strategy to ensure Aboriginal people benefit from the transition and their heritage is protected.

The First Nations Clean Energy Network will hold round table consultation sessions across Australia to shape the strategy, with the first session being held in Port Hedland on Monday and Tuesday next week.

Yorta Yorta descendant and First Nations Clean Energy Network Steering Group member Karrina Nolan said the move away from fossil fuels presented opportunities for First Nations people.

“We want to bring in any community members who are interested in renewables,” she said.

“They might have projects already underway. It might be they’re doing something as small as getting a microgrid on their homeland or outstation, or they might be living in social housing and actually want to know how they can get solar on their rooftops.

“It might be Traditional Owners and Prescribed Body Corporates who are dealing with large-scale proponents that are coming and saying, ‘we want to develop big projects on your country’. We’re interested in supporting Traditional Owners to really negotiate well for those benefits, whatever they might be.

“We’re also really interested in what the jobs will look like for our communities and our people, and what it would look like if we were actually the proponents, the developers and companies actually doing these large-scale projects.”

Kariyarra Elder Pat Mason, who lives in Port Hedland, will attend the consultation next week.

Ms Mason told Ngaarda Media First Nations people should be able to own their own renewable energy projects.

“In the past partnerships, mining companies never gave us nothing,” she said.

“Why can’t we have a solar farm that’s ours, where we own it, and we could generate power to actually pour money back in for future generations?” she said.