“Wirlankarra yanama. Yurlu nyinku mirda yurndarirda”

“Go with a clear, open and accepting spirit and the country will not treat you badly”

Source: http://indigiquotes.atsinj.com.au/

We pay our respects to the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of this country, and acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, past, present and emerging, as the original natural resources managers of this land. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have a spiritual and customary living relationship with water in all its forms, through creation stories, use of water as a resource, and knowledge about sharing and conserving water. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a holistic view to land, water and culture and see them as one, not in isolation of each other. At the Australian River Restoration Centre we try to develop strong and meaningful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so that we can share our knowledge, combine our strengths, and together, care for the land and water that sustains us.

Richard, Adam and Siwan making a film together about the importance of swampy meadows and wetlands for cultural, spiritual and environmental values. Photo Heather McGinness

Within the Australian River Restoration Centre team we prioritise personal relationships with local Aboriginal people living and working in our region. It is to these people that we look to for knowledgeable advice, culturally appropriate communication, and wisdom about who we need to talk to learn about areas of sacred significance. We also support Aboriginal people and businesses whenever we can, and look for practical, economic and emotional ways we can enable Aboriginal knowledge and voices can be heard throughout our work. As the Australian River Restoration Centre continues to grow, we are committing to providing more opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices and enterprises throughout all our activities. Some of the ways we will do this include:

  • Identifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in each of our regions and, wherever possible, facilitating their involvement, perspectives and input into projects.
  • Following and respecting local protocols – how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on their Country do business.
  • Protecting Intellectual Property, the Traditional Owners will always own their knowledge.
  • Incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language, place names, knowledge and connections as key parts of every project (where appropriate).
  • Undertaking projects wherever possible that protect or restore areas of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander significance.
  • Following the principal of Free, Prior Informed Consent re under UNDRIP  Article 19
  • Ensuring we follow AIATSIS ethical research guidelines.
  • Seeking permissions and permits when working on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land.
  • Engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through existing relationships so that trust and respect are the basis of all interactions.
  • Ensuring any Australian River Restoratin Centre event/activity includes a Welcome or Acknowledgement to Country provided by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people wherever possible.
  • Inviting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as speakers in our workshops, not just providing the Welcome or Acknowledgement to Country.
  • Where possible employing Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people and businesses wherever possible (catering, accommodation, facilitation).
  • Providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to participate in workshops and training with subsidised fees.
  • Being open to learning, updating and improving our recognition and incorporation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and perspectives across all our activities.

 

Learning from Aboriginal people

We are fortunate to be guided in our efforts to genuinely engage with Aboriginal people by our friends Wally Bell, Aaron Chatfield, Adam Shipp and Bradley Moggridge.  Bradley led the former New South Wales Aboriginal Water Initiative team. This team did great work across New South Wales, and it was a sad day that saw their funding cut and the initiative disbanded. We are fortunate, however, to have access to the resources this team developed, and the Our Water Our Country Guide provided here as a free downloadable document, is one we highly recommend you explore to learn more about Aboriginal people, communities and their involvement in water management decision making. This film gives a snapshot of the guide.

Our Water, Our Country

This resource is an information manual for Aboriginal people and communities about the water reform process, designed to help communities make the most of these opportunities, including access to water for social, cultural and economic purposes, and a greater say in how water is used in general. This will help our people to meet their cultural responsibilities and protect Country, and it will benefit Australians as a whole through fairer distribution of resources, a healthier natural environment and a stronger, richer culture.

Download Guide

Bradley and his colleagues continue to do great work and, most recently, in partnership with the University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Knowledge Department, they have developed resources sharing Aboriginal knowledge and insight across three themes – Fire, Astronomy and Water. The Water theme provides highly relevant, accessible information and activities we can all be using in our waterway management work.

Insert Astronomy, Fire and Water images

Another really great initiative is the Welcome to Country app which was created by Aboriginal company Weetianna Street Media with the intent of education people in the Traditional Owner’s culture and heritage protocols right across Australia. It uses GPS data to work out where you are in relation to the country you are entering.

Reconciliation Action Plan

Here at ARRC, we are committed to creating an inclusive and diverse workplace and wish to demonstrate our support for a more just, equitable and reconciled Australia. To demonstrate this, we have developed a Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to make our organisation a culturally aware and inclusive workplace for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. We are planning to strengthen the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and acknowledge their unique place in our shared history, that the First Aboriginal and Torres Strait Nations people are the true owners of this land.

RAPs “provide tangible and substantive benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, increasing economic equity and supporting First Nations self-determination.”

Our RAP has 13 different action steps that are achievable and demonstrate our ongoing dedication to reconciliation. These 13 actions will be delivered by our RAP working group and will broadly cover:

  • Establishing and strengthening of mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, stakeholders and organisations.
  • Increase understanding, value and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories, knowledge, and rights through cultural learning.
  • Demonstrate respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by observing cultural protocols.
  • Increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander supplier diversity to support improved economic and social outcomes.
  • Build respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories by celebrating and participating in events such as NAIDOC Week and National Reconciliation Week.
  • Promote positive race relations through anti-discrimination strategies.

Aboriginal businesses we work with

NameCountryBusinessLinks
Wally BellNgunawal
Buru Ngunawal Corporation
www.buru-ngunawal.com
Adam ShippWiradjuri
Yurbay Consulting
www.yurbay.com.au
Alfie WalkerWiradjuri
Pejar Aboriginal Local Land Council

Goulburn Mulwaree Deputy Mayor
Pejar Facebook page
Bradley MoggridgeKamilaroi
University of Canberra
Bradley's LinkedIn

www.cosmosmagazine.com/geoscience/indigenous-hydrogeologist-bradley-moggridge
Krystal HurstWorimi
Gillawarra Art
www.gillawarraarts.com