Dyed weave from Fi Weaving Tours
Since 2005 RIEL staff have taught a unit titled "Natural Resources and Indigenous Livelihoods". The unit covers a range of key topics under this banner and is delivered as an intensive over five days – making it open to final year Bachelor of Science students, Masters of Environmental Management students as well as people working in government, the private sector, and not-for-profit organisations wanting to do the course for professional development. In previous years the intensive has been held in central Australia, Tennant Creek and Maningrida. Most recently the unit was held in Darwin, with a locally-based day field trip component.
Key topics covered during the course included: economic theory, sustainable livelihood development and frameworks, governance, institutions and policy, considerations in choosing natural resources – plants and animal species – for commercial use, assessment techniques, methods for engaging communities, and communication strategies. A specific focus was on the range of enterprises Indigenous people in Northern Australia are engaged in such as land and sea management and carbon farming. These were delivered using lectures and presentations, videos, case studies, board games, group discussions and guest lectures by experts from different disciplines.
The main lecturers were Julian Gorman (also course coordinator), Dr Natasha Stacey, Professor Owen Stanley – all from the Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL), with invited speakers from RIEL partners including Keith Saalfeld from the Department of Land Resource Management, Cameron Yates from Darwin Centre for Bushfire Research (RIEL), Hmalan Hunter-Xenie from the Aboriginal Researcher Practitioners Network (ARPNet), and Leonie Molloy from the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance.
The course has a large field component and aims to mix theory and practice using case study examples and through observations during the field trips.
This year the participants went on field trips to the Darwin Aquaculture Centre and Noonamah Crocodile Farm which provided the students with knowledge about the values, planning, operations and research associated with these types of enterprises. The main field trip was to the Nauiyu Community at Daly River about two hours south of Darwin where the class was given a practical and participatory introduction to the intricacies of fibre products through Fi Tours, a small Aboriginal owned enterprise. The students were introduced to the natural products used and processes involved in weaving baskets and other types of fibre art as well as the social, cultural and economic values associated with such an enterprise.
Fi Weaving Tours, Daly River
Participants came from diverse backgrounds. There were a number of International Masters of Environmental Management students on the course, two from Tanzania and one from West Timor, Indonesia. Two students came up from Adelaide and Melbourne to attend the course, one as part of his Masters in Forest Ecosystem Science and the other a Graduate Diploma of Indigenous Knowledge’s. The three professional participants included a Climate Adaption Policy Officer from the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries, another a consultant with the Terra Rosa Environmental Consultancy and the third a freelance consultant in science and corporate communications. All participants had skills and experiences related to natural resource management and contributed through their individual perspectives and knowledge to the course as well as establishing a strong network among themselves which will be useful into the future.
Participants’ evaluation on the content of this course showed the relevance and application of this unit in areas associated with Indigenous livelihoods and natural resource management both in Australia and elsewhere in the world.
For further information contact Julian Gorman »
Natural Resources and Indigenous Livelihoods students on the bus