News in indigenous languages helps Aboriginal Australians connect with the world

The theme of this year’s NAIDOC week was ‘Our Languages Matter’ and to prove the point an ABC News article showcased three Indigenous translators who bring the Australian and International news to their language communities in their own language, through the Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS). 

This adds huge value for Aboriginal people in areas where English may be their fourth or fifth language and may never be spoken at home. Hearing the news in their own first language enables people to connect with the issues facing the world at large.

 

“It helps them understand the news better when they hear it in their language — it gives them a better understanding of what it’s about.” Says Tyrone Holmes, who is a Kriol interpreter for AIS.

 

Tyrone Holmes says that reading the news in Kriol helps his community and others stay up to date with issues which affect them. He feels proud to keep the Kriol language strong as it is an important part of many people’s identity.

 

Nadyezhda Pozzana is from the island community of Galiwinku in East Arnhem Land and speaks five languages. She translates the ABC news into Ylongu Matha. “Even the elders and the senior members of my community say, ‘We listen to the radio more now because now we know what’s being said and what’s happening in the day-to-day national and international news.'” She says.

 

Maggie Burns grew up learning Warlpiri and Pintupi-Luritja from her mother and is fluent in both. One challenge is that some English words cannot be directly translated, but for Maggie another challenge is that some of the news she must translate is about such horrible events. However, she believes it is important for her to continue doing her job so that people can understand what is going on in the world. “I am very privileged to know how to speak my language and that’s a gift so it’s very important to me.”

 

Re-post ~ NAIDOC Week: News in Indigenous language enables understanding of local, global events by Mark Rigby on ABC News

Regional Cities Are Small But Great

The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) is challenging the common misconceptions about rural cities through its Great Small Cities initiative. With a growth rate four times that of major cities and and and economic output on a par with that of Finland, encouraging investment in regional cities could provide huge economic benefits to Australia as a whole.

 

 

4.5 million Australians live in a network of 31 regional cities across Australia and these cities are a vital part of the Australian economy. The RAI plans to work with city leaders, governments and the Australian public to encourage policy which will make the most of the opportunities presented by regional city economies.

They take a two pronged approach. Firstly they aim to bust the myth that it is only worth investing in metropolitan cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane. Secondly they have developed a blueprint for investment in City Deals to ensure that regional cities will be investment ready.

The Regional Australia Institute’s Regional Accelerator Program seeks to support regional businesses

If investment is successful, Australia’s ‘hidden metropolis’ of 4.5 million people spread across 31 regional cities has the capacity to produce $378 billion in output by 2031.

The Great Small Cities Initiative emphasises that regional cities are just that: cities, rather than the small rural towns revolving solely around agriculture that readily spring to mind when most Australians hear the word ‘regional’. However RAI are also keen to point out that regional towns often have less congestion, pollution and extreme property prices than their metropolitan counterparts.

In order to show the real demographic and skills base of regional Australia, RAI have teamed up with LinkedIn to examine the skill mix in five regional cities and how connected professionals are within, and outside of, those cities.

Read more ~ Great Small Cities – Regional Australia Institute

Wind power saves agribusiness expansion project and creates rural jobs

The largest hydroponic vegetable grower in Australia has been able to expand its operations thanks to a groundbreaking collaboration with a 196MW wind farm development.

 

Nectar Farms had planned to power its $565m expansion project with gas but almost had to abandon the project when costs proved to be prohibitive. However, after discussions with state government, local council and Neoen, the wind farm developer, they will now convert their entire operation to run on electricity from the wind farm and expand their glasshouses to 40 acres, creating 1,300 new jobs in an area which has recently suffered the closure of a goldmine.

 

Bulgana GPH Announcement from New Era Media on Vimeo.

 

Energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio highlighted the fact that renewable energy can ‘unlock opportunities for large, energy intensive businesses, to create jobs in regional communities’.

“We’re delivering affordable, secure and clean energy, which is powering new jobs right across our state,” D’Ambrosio said.

The project will also incorporate 20MW of battery storage, meaning it is 100% powered by wind energy. Nectar Farms will only use 10% of the electricity generated by the wind farm, with the rest to be purchased by the Victorian government.

This is one of several wind and solar farms planned for western Victoria, which will help the state to meet its target of 40% renewable electricity by 2025 and also count towards the federal renewable energy target.

Re-post ~ Giles Parkinson – Victoria agribusiness turns to 196MW wind farm with 20MW storage in RenewEconomy

Report highlights importance of preserving Australia’s plant biodiversity

Kew Gardens has released its second annual State of the World’s Plants report. Last year’s report named Australia as one of the top three places in the world to discover new plant species, but also estimated that it is home to 12% of the world’s threatened plants.

This year’s report deepens the research from the previous year. For example it increases our understanding of the reasons why particular plants may be more vulnerable to extinction and which plant families contain the highest percentage of medicinal plants. It also maps the major traits associated with a plant’s resilience to climate change, which include thicker leaves, efficient water-use strategies, deeper roots and higher wood density.

The report also looks at threats to various plant species, including the increased need for food production and a particular focus on wildfires, seeking to understand how patterns of burning may be affected by factors such as changing land use and climate change.

Over 100 scientists are involved in preparing the report, which also highlights the good news on newly discovered plants.

Australia has been identified as one of the top three places in the world to discover new plant species, alongside China and Brazil. Dr Martin Taylor, a conservation scientist with WWF Australia, said Australia had about 21,000 plant species, making up 10% of the world’s total.

However, there are concerns that government policies may not be giving plants the protection they are due. An increasing demand for food production and housing mean more pressure to clear land. Dr Taylor singled out land clearing in Queensland as a major issue.

 

“Land clearing has accelerated, we’ve done an estimate that over 200,000 hectares of threatened species habitat was cleared in just the first two years of the Newman Government.”

 

When clearing laws were relaxed in Queensland, so much was cleared it looks set to completely undo greenhouse gas emissions cuts made under the federal government’s Direct Action policy. Photograph: WWF

 

There are concerns that new, more relaxed, land-clearing laws in NSW may lead to a similar trend in the state.

 

Read more ~

Syrian, Iraqi and Jewish women create friendships over food

The Shared Table Project is bringing Syrian, Iraqi and Jewish women together to promote understanding and friendship.

The project brings newly arrived Syrian and Iraqi refugees to Emmanuel Synagogue in Sydney. With local Jewish women, they prepare a meal and eat together for five consecutive weeks. These occasions often include spontaneous outbreaks of song and laughter and give participants the opportunity to share aspects of their culture, such as the dishes they prepare, with others from a different background.

 

 

Project Director Mel Don Port points out that most of the Christian and Muslim women who take part will never have met a Jewish person before and vice versa. She remembers Hasna, a Syrian woman who was terrified and shaking when she first attended the group:

“‘At the end of that first week, she was the first one in class each week.”

“She was kissing us, and cuddling us and hugging ~ and in tears in the last week that she was saying goodbye to us.”

 

Sharing food, stories and laughter together breaks down barriers for these women and gives them a taste of the kind of harmony and love we’d all like to see more of in the world.

Dishes prepared and shared as part of the Shared Table Project

Re-post ~ Syrian, Iraqi and Jewish women creating friendships, harmony over food by Rachael Kohn for The Spirit of Things on ABC News

Dingoes: a farmer’s new best friend?

Whilst dingoes have traditionally been seen as a pest by farmers, there are some innovative land managers who see dingo populations as a good thing, and the evidence increasingly backs them up.

By law, land managers in Australia are required to take ‘all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with [dingoes] under their control’ as dingoes are considered a pest. However, individual case studies where dingo populations have been left alone show potential for this revolutionary farming practice to positively impact land regeneration.

The benefits of not managing dingo populations artificially include:

  • Smaller numbers of dingoes ~ when their social hierarchies are uninterrupted by poison baiting etc. dingo populations are self-managing, with only one breeding pair per group. The dominant group will scare off other dingoes who venture into the area.
  • Dingoes keep down kangaroo, feral goat, pig, cat and fox numbers, which allows pasture to rest effectively and protects native wildlife.
  • Even with some calves being taken, research shows a net financial benefit to having dingoes on a cattle property.

 

Dingoes are Australia’s apex predator and an essential part of a balanced ecosystem. They keep kangaroo populations in check, which in turn prevents overgrazing and land degradation. Photo: Angus Emmott

Dingoes are a bigger issue for sheep farmers than cattle farmers and this has created some controversy in areas where farmers are experimenting with allowing dingoes to live on their land. However, there are a number of potential ways of protecting sheep without killing dingoes, such as dingo-proof fencing and the use of guardian dogs, which have been shown to be effective dingo-deterrents in many locations across Australia. This, in combination with a longer-term move towards changing our eating habits” farming and eating native fauna, such as kangaroos, would allow massive regeneration of land that has been overgrazed and degraded for decades.

These experiments seem to back up what has been learned from other land regeneration efforts: that working with natural processes, rather than against them, is the simplest and most cost-effective way to live well on Australian soils.

 

Re-post ~ Why do some graziers want to retain, not kill, dingoes? by Euan Richie in The Conversation.

Read more ~ Predator-friendly farming—good for livestock, dingoes and the bottom line by Marea Martlew on Phys.org

Free manual on the use of guardian dogs for protecting livestock by Linda van Bommel

The virtuous circle: predator-friendly farming and ecological restoration in Australia by Johnson and Wallach in the Resotoration Ecology Journal

The Nuka System of Care ~ Indigenous healthcare for the people, by the people

A revolutionary health care system run by and for indigenous people and incorporating indigenous healthcare perspectives has become an international model for health care reform.

Since Southcentral Foundation (SCF) began overseeing healthcare provision for Alaska Native and American Indian people in Alaska, emergency room visits have dropped by 36%. Deaths from cancer, heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease have dropped by 26%, 47%, and 59%, respectively and infant mortality has also dropped by 58%. This has all been achieved while also cutting costs.

 

In the lobby of Southcentral Foundation’s Anchorage Native Primary Care Center, Alaska Native artists sell their work under “Bird Spirit Mask” by Inupiat artist Sylvester Ayek. (Photo Courtesy of Southcentral Foundation)

 

SCF serves a population of 136,000 native people spread out over 108,000 square miles, including more than 200 native villages, many of which are only accessible by boat or air. The system involves partnerships with 51 village health clinics, medical teams who regularly travel to villages and tele-medicine, and is centred around the Native Primary Care Centre in Anchorage, where nearly half of the entire population of Alaska lives.

The health centre has the feel of a community centre and is decorated with indigenous art and craft, which increases pride and self-confidence in its ‘customerowners’ (as users of the clinic are called). It also has open offices and offers integrated treatments including complementary and traditional medicine, support with substance abuse, mental health, and home health. This all forms part of a preventative approach which aims to deal with the root causes of illness and to encourage healthy lifestyle choices.

 

“Emphasis on prevention and integrated healthcare delivery results in less demand for specialty care and fewer emergency room visits. Equally important is the understanding that physical health is bound to social and spiritual wellbeing. Wellness, in this model, comes from facilitating cultural connection and strengthening families and communities.”

 

SCF recognises that indigenous people are at particular risk of health issues because of their history, with the fallout from years of epidemics, high levels of child abuse in missions and boarding schools and the loss of culture, community and identity all contributing to current high levels of domestic and child abuse and drug and alcohol misuse. To counter this, the effects of multi-generational trauma are treated by tribal doctors along with current health issues in an integrated, holistic process.

 

A customer-owner receives care from Tribal Doctor Steven Booth in Southcentral Foundation’s Traditional healing clinic. (Photo courtesy of Southcentral Foundation)

 

Preventative, holistic healthcare would seems to make sense for us all, but the Nuka System of Care developed by Southcentral Foundation has particular relevance for indigenous communities because of the specific issues those communities face and the way it leverages the rich traditional knowledge that is already present.

SCF offer training, site visits and consulting to share this system with other healthcare providers worldwide.

Re-post ~ Native Wisdom Is Revolutionizing Health Care by Shari Huhndorf in SSIR

Bush foods set to boom, but will Aboriginal Australians benefit?

What do Kakadu Plums, Champagne and Camenbert Cheese have in common? Not much as yet. But some people would like to see Australia adopt rules and policies for bush foods which protect the interests of the place they come from and the people who hold special knowledge about them, as is the case in Europe. This would ensure traditional owners have a stake in the exploitation of these foods and are reimbursed for their intellectual property.

In Europe, “products that are deeply rooted in tradition, culture and geography” are sometimes covered by ‘protected geographical indications‘ which only allow, for example, sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France to be called Champagne. These rules support rural development by establishing a unique provenance that in turn can create jobs in processing and production of these commodities locally.

 

The Kakadu Plum, also known as the Billygoat Plum, is sought after as a great source of vitamin C and has long been used as bush medicine by Aboriginal people.

 

Wendy Morgan, chair of the Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council, argues that such measures are necessary since currently corporations have no qualms about exploiting indigenous knowledge, and this is a missed opportunity to generate income for Aboriginal communities.

 

“You’ll have the big pharmaceutical companies coming out and talking to [Aboriginal communities] and taking samples of their medicines. They might acknowledge where they got it from, but there is no money going back into that community they got the information from.”

 

Under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, when products are taken from specific locations the benefits from those products should be shared with the providers of those resources, be they national governments or indigenous communities.

However, there are loopholes in Australian law which allow international companies to bypass this process. There is also the possibility that Aboriginal people could be legislated out of their own heritage, as almost happened in when a major US cosmetics company tried to patent an extract of Kakadu Plum.

These issues are all the more relevant because the bush food market, including other well-known native Australian plants such as lemon myrtle, wattle seed, finger lime, warrigal greens, quandong and bush tomatoes, appears to be on the verge of booming. It has even been suggested that Australia may have to start importing bush foods to meet demand.

According to Jocelyn Grant, the general manager of First Australians Capital, one of the major factors holding back the bush food market is lack of supply due to current protocols. These mandate that when a not-for-profit business that processes, for example, Kakadu plums, seeks government grants and financial support they have to sign over all the IP to the government. She’d like to see this change.

 

“Why wouldn’t we look at a whole-of-government strategy where not only are we protecting indigenous foods and the rights of people passing on knowledge about those foods ~ but also the value to the Australian economy is huge because it is an export opportunity,” she says.

 

Re-post ~ Protecting the Kakadu in Kakadu plums: selling bush foods to the world by Fiona Smith in The Guardian

Read more ~

Small farms are key to food security

Small and medium sized farms are key to providing quality nutrition to the global population, according to a new study measuring the contribution of agriculture, livestock and fisheries to global nutrient production, diversity and food security.

The new research, published in the first issue of The Lancet Planetary Health, was carried out by a trans-disciplinary team of more than 400 scientists from 19 different institutions, including geographers, livestock, agricultural and marine scientists, economists, public health and nutrition specialists, epidemiologists, and environmental scientists.

They found that farms smaller than 50 hectares produce nearly 51-77% of all commodities and nutrients, including cereals, livestock, fruits, pulses, roots and tubers and vegetables.

 

 

The study results highlight the fact that when it comes to nutrition, quality is as important as quantity. Whilst we might be accustomed to thinking about nutrition in terms of calorific intake, micro-nutrients such as vitamins and minerals play a vital role in human growth and health. Currently there is a ‘hidden hunger’ crisis of affecting two billion people worldwide who are lacking in these vital micro-nutrients.

Mario Herrero, who headed up the study also points out that crop diversity can create resilience against climate change and extreme weather. Using the example of the devastating effect Cyclone Debbie had on cane growers as well as tomato, capsicum and eggplant producers, he points out that an event such as a major wheat disease would be a huge problem for farms all across Australia.

 

“We need to be careful about putting all our eggs in one basket… Having diverse farming systems builds resilience.”

 

This new appreciation of the benefits of small farms will influence how we address the second of the UN sustainable development goals, which aims to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”. A range of farm sizes will be necessary to achieve these goals. However, in order to nourish people, rather than just feed them, small farms need to be protected as they are the source of so much nutritional diversity.

 

Re-post ~ Small farms need protection to safeguard nutrients and diversity by Kate Langford in ECOS eNews

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Earth has highest greenhouse gas concentrations in 800,000 years

A new worldwide database charting the levels of 43 greenhouse gases over 2,000 years provides the clearest evidence yet that global warming is being caused by human activity.

 

 

Scientists from the Australian-German Climate and Energy College at the University of Melbourne, have created the database by collating historical and contemporary information on greenhouse gas levels, including from samples of air trapped in bubbles in ice cores at the North and South Poles.

The samples show a marked rise in the levels of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution, and particularly since 1950.

The lead author of the study, Malte Meinhausen, says that the numbers tell us the story we already know, ‘only in more details and more colour’.

 

“If we look at the whole 800,000 years of this Earth’s history, we never had such big greenhouse gas concentrations ~ of CO2, of methane, and of a lot of other gases… so we are doing an immense experiment with the planet and we are seeing the effects right now.”

 

The study also showed humanity’s power to reverse these changes, as the authors note that levels of CFCs have dropped steadily since they were phased out due to the Montreal Protocol in the late 1980s. However, these gases are still making a large contribution to global warming.

The data will be used by scientists to create more detailed and accurate models of how climate change affects the planet we call home by looking at temperatures, weather patterns, sea level rise, and ice melting in relation to greenhouse gas levels. It will also be used to inform the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s next assessment report in 2021.

 

Re-post ~ Greenhouse gases higher than any time in 800,000 years ‘shows definite human effect’ by Claire Slattery on ABC News

Read More ~