Preserving connection to country

As part of our Cultural heritage team, Jill O’Dea and Daen Munn manage Indigenous scouting of proposed gas developments for areas of cultural significance and help raise awareness of Indigenous culture in our Integrated Gas business.

Jill O’Dea, one of Origin’s Cultural Heritage Specialists, is a quietly spoken, Barunggam woman whose family has a long and close connection to her land around Chinchilla in south-western Queensland.

Her colleague Daen Munn, a Gunggari man and Traditional Owner Relationship Development Officer at Origin, says Jill is regarded as an emerging elder in her local community. Emerging elders play a vital role in Indigenous culture, maintaining community connections and preserving the stories and memories of existing elders.

“Jill wouldn’t say that – she’s way too modest, but many of us see her that way,” Daen said.

“I remember the elders telling all the stories about our people and their connection to the land – when they spoke the young people sat up and paid attention – it was the elders’ responsibility to keep the stories alive because many of them have been lost over the years,” Jill said.

Australia Pacific LNG, where Origin is the upstream operator, has named one of its tenements ‘Murrungama’ to respect and acknowledge the traditional owners of the land. The tenement is near Chinchilla and is the first tenement in Australia where the gas produced is reserved solely for domestic manufacturing businesses.

Daen says the naming of the block has been welcomed as another way of raising cultural awareness among Origin staff and the wider community.

“As part of Origin’s Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan, we want to get people talking about Indigenous culture – asking questions and learning,” Daen says.

“I drive one of our field vehicles featuring an Indigenous design based around the idea of a journey and reminds us that every day many Origin people work on and travel across traditional lands – it gets people talking about culture and that’s a good thing.”

Jill and Daen manage Indigenous scouting of proposed gas developments for areas of cultural significance, to ensure they are not disturbed and are protected for future generations.

“I love to be on my country, sitting up on a hill – you look and follow the lay of the land and you can see where a camp would have been and the lines where our people walked,” Jill said.

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