Skip to main content

Research and monitoring

Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef are engaged in a variety of research collaborations, including the development and establishment of Indigenous heritage monitoring using the Strong peoples-Strong country framework.


An image representing the framework, where Strong People Strong Country is in the center, connected to the six hubs describe components of Indigenous Heritage
Figure 1. The Strong peoples – Strong country framework for monitoring Indigenous heritage in the Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program
© Mallie Designs, licensed for use by RIMReP partners


Strong peoples – Strong country

Strong peoples – Strong country is an Indigenous heritage monitoring framework connecting the health of the Reef and its catchment to the quality of life enjoyed by Traditional Owners. It provides a Traditional Owner led approach for systematic monitoring of the condition of the Reef and its catchment as an Indigenous heritage asset. 

Strong peoples – Strong country reflects the Traditional Owner worldview that their quality of life is connected inseparably to and underpinned by, their Land and Sea Country. This monitoring framework aims to measure progress in achieving Traditional Owner objectives and actions in the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Strategy for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Strong peoples – Strong country sits at the centre of the framework; the concept that the peoples and their country depend on each other for health and wellbeing. Traditional Owners depend on the health of different aspects of country described by the six hubs around the centre. Conversely, Traditional Owners have obligations to country that create meaning and protect the health of country; the two are inseparable.


The six hubs describe components of Indigenous heritage:

  1. Country health
  2. People’s health
  3. Heritage and knowledge
  4. Culture and community
  5. Education
  6. Empowerment and economics

There is no order to the hubs. Traditional Owners’ view their connection to Land and Sea Country as being primary to their heritage information. They benefit from country being healthy, and in turn, the country benefits from Traditional Owners’ custodial responsibility to look after country. The six hubs within the framework each have a number of attributes, with 45 attributes identified in total.


National Environmental Science Program (NESP)

The focus of NESP is on practical and applied research that informs on-ground action that will yield measurable improvements to the environment.

The NESP Tropical Water Quality Hub researches water quality and coastal management focused on the Great Barrier Reef and other tropical waters in close collaboration with Traditional Owners. 


Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment resources

Indigenous collaborations for science

Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef page


Traditional Owner Reef Protection investment by the Great Barrier Foundation

The Reef Trust Partnership is a $443.3 million, six year grant between the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, which manages the Reef Trust funding on behalf of the Australian Government, and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. A component of the Foundation’s investment is focused on Traditional Owner Reef protection.


Indigenous heritage research and monitoring reports

Was this page helpful?

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority acknowledges the expertise, wisdom, and enduring connections that have informed the guardianship of the Reef for millennia. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners as the first managers of this land and sea, and value their traditional knowledge which continues to inform the current management and stewardship of the Reef for future generations.