Indigenous trainees with a passion for sharing their culture will now have the opportunity to put their knowledge and connection to Townsville North Queensland to practical use, with the launch of an Indigenous Guides Training Program working with the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA).
Thanks to a generous $100,000 donation from The Morris Family Foundation, the eight-week program will provide a new opportunity for Manbarra traditional owners and Bwgcolman people to share their passion for the environment, and their culture to promote Australia’s first underwater museum, located off the coast of Townsville.
The full time paid training program will be delivered by Reef Ecologic Pty Ltd, Manbarra traditional owners and Savannah Guides and is designed with a clear vision of providing participants with tourism career pathways as guides for the next installation of MOUA on Palm Island, planned for the end of 2021.
Manbarra traditional owner and Museum of Underwater Art Board Director Vicki Saylor said the program was a welcomed opportunity for visitors to see the Museum and experience it firsthand through the eyes of Palm Island’s traditional owners and the Bwgcolman people.
“An important part of the MOUA story is the cultural connection to country, and what better way to tell this story, than through the eyes and hearts of Indigenous Guides,” Ms Saylor said.
“The purpose of MOUA is to enhance the destinations’ tourism appeal and spark meaningful conversation about the reef, but the Board (MOUA) also have a real vision to support the local community and economy, and a big part of this is the generate a benefit to Indigenous Australians, particularly residents of the Palm Island Group.”
“We’re excited about the future flow-on effects of this program to upskill our community, and be able to share our culture and passion for the Greater Palm Island Group with locals and visitors alike.”
The eight-week full time paid training program will see trainees work alongside traditional owners and Bwol people and professionals in the fields of marine science and tourism to become a certified Indigenous tourism guide.
Trainees will receive formal training and qualifications in boating, diving, project management, marine science and tourism.
Townsville Enterprise Director of Visitor Economy and Marketing, Lisa Woolfe said the program was a step in the right direction to support the growth of such an important industry.
“The tourism and hospitality industry is the region’s sixth largest employer, and accounts for 8,000 local jobs; and programs such as this are crucial to the continued growth of our industry and enhance the skills in our destination,” Ms Woolfe said.
“We have already seen the potential that attractions such as the Museum of Underwater Art can have for our destination – cementing our place as leaders in education of the Great Barrier Reef – and this program will add further benefit to the visitor experience and of course the local community.”
For more information on the Indigenous Guides Training program, visit moua.com.au