Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation is investigating the financial feasibility of installing a solar farm on an underutilised piece of land they own in Sale. If the plan goes ahead, it will provide self determination to the broader Indigenous community in Gippsland through increased sovereignty and control over income.
Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation is a leading provider of primary healthcare, social and family support services for Aboriginal people in the Gippsland region. It was established as an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation in 1992 and has been providing culturally appropriate health and wellbeing programs ever since. Its services include GP consultation, mental health counselling, drug and alcohol counselling and women’s and men’s health programs.
In delivering these services, Ramahyuck aims to improve social, financial and health outcomes of Aboriginal people in Gippsland, raise awareness of health issues, increase screening rates for diseases and increase vaccination rates.
At the beginning of 2019, Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio announced funding for four local businesses to develop alternative energy technology. One of those grants was given to Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation to research the financial feasibility of installing a solar farm on an underutilised 16ha piece of land they own in Sale.
Ramahyuck found that it would be practical to install a 5MW solar farm – enough to power 2,000 households per year. It would be one of the first grid-connected solar farms in Australia on Aboriginal land.
The Ramahyuck Solar Farm would provide a long-term income stream for the organisation, allowing it to further develop the many services it provides. In an interview with Gippslandia in 2020, Chief Executive Officer David Morgan stated that the project also aligns “with what Aboriginal culture is all about, which is working and living on the land.”
If the solar farm goes ahead, it will provide self determination to the broader Indigenous community in Gippsland through increased sovereignty and control over income. It will also create opportunities for Indigenous employment in renewable energy and provide a template for a process that could be developed in other First Nations communities in Australia.
Australia is well placed to harness energy from renewable sources like sun and wind. Through their initiative, Ramahyuck is demonstrating the wealth of opportunities that are available to Gippsland to support Australia’s inevitable transition towards a zero-emissions economy. The Latrobe Valley is at the forefront to take full advantage of innovation and the transition to new energy technologies.
This article was originally written by Lucy Marks for Transitions: Stories of Gippsland Communities Leading Change — a new magazine celebrating inspiring stories of transition from across the region. Check it out here >>