Collaboration sees Aboriginal people back as custodians of their lands

The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation are taking an active role in the management of six state and national parks and reserves which are within the Country which was returned to the Dja Dja Wurrung people in a recognition agreement in 2013.

The Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board, will manage the parks and reserves in partnership with Parks Victoria. They have appointed CSIRO to lead the creation of a Joint Management Plan, which will have Dja Dja Wurrung’s 20-year vision for people (Jaara) and country (Djanderk) at its centre.

 

A gathering of Dja Dja Wurrung people, at Hepburn Regional Park, one of the six parks being jointly managed by the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board.

 

Graham Atkinson, chairperson of the board, who was instrumental in negotiating recognition of traditional ownership with the state government says:

“Our Country Plan acknowledges that we must transmit our cultural heritage to younger generations. The Dja Dja Wurrung people have kept their connection to country alive through oral history, as well as through researching historical publications written at the time of European settlement.”

Dr Ro Hill, who will be leading the CSIRO team as they develop the joint management plan, recognises the importance of ‘weaving together’ traditional and scientific knowledge in order to benefit from both. He also believes that some of the ways of seeing the land enshrined in traditional knowledge, such as a focus on larger, more visible species, may be make the parks management strategy more accessible to the public. In the same vein, he notes that the holistic way of understanding how humans and the landscape are connected has influenced national parks management worldwide, as exemplified by Parks Victoria’s ‘Healthy Parks, Healthy People’ campaign.

Re-post ~ Returning good health to country and spirit by Mary-Lou Consdine in ECOS

Well-managed refugee resettlement can be win-win in rural areas

Refugee advocate Ataus Samad from Multicultural Queensland’s Advisory Council believes that, with the right support and incentives, refugees and migrant workers can be resettled into rural and regional areas, for the benefit of all concerned.

 

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Sweet potato farmer Jean Ntakarutimana and his family, who are happily re-settled in Gracemere, QLD.

 

Jean Ntakarutimana and his parents on the farm with their new employer, Eric Coleman

 

This was certainly the case for Jean Ntakarutimana who struggled to find work and settle into Australian life after being transferred from a Tanzanian refugee camp as a teenager. Ntakarutimana now works on a sweet potato farm in central Queensland, a move which has been so successful that he has now brought his extended family to live and work with him.

 

“We’re happy to be here, the rent is cheap, everything is easier,” Mr Ntakarutimana said.

 

The arrangement has also brought benefits for Eric Coleman, the owner of the sweet potato farm, who enjoys the happy nature and hardworking ethos of the family.

 

“I think the best thing about Johnno and his dad is they come from an agricultural background, so it’s not actually foreign to them but I think the employment agencies are probably running them into places like Brisbane and trying to get them jobs in an environment that’s totally foreign.”

 

He would like to see employment agencies put more time and funding into providing English lessons, driver licences and tickets to make the prospect more attractive for potential employers.

 

Ataus Samad agrees:

 

“If we want to develop our regional and rural areas, we need people. We need to create an environment that will encourage people to settle,” he said.

 

By working closely with refugees and migrants, as well as with employers, Mr Samad has been able to successfully transition groups of refugees into rural life using an employment-first approach.

Re-post ~ Refugee resettlement in regional Australia brings success but needs more incentives by By Inga Stünzner on ABC News

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

Food production is easier in rural areas, says Australian vinegar mogul

 

“You’ll find everything you need in the regions, cheap land, infrastructure, staff and the raw materials. If you want to go looking for opportunities, go west into the gold rush.” ~ Ian Henderson, Lirah Vinegar

 

These are the words of Ian Henderson, the man who, in the space of just 12 years, has turned his vinegar-making business from a one-barrel operation in a shed into a global exporter with a new $5 million factory.

 

Lirah Vinegar’s new state-of-the-art factory in Stanthorpe, QLD

 

Henderson points out that there are many benefits to living and running a business in a regional area, not least the lower housing and property prices. He leveraged this lifestyle bonus in job advertisments and easily attracted a team of highly qualified graduate employees.

“I have clinical pathologists, one of my vinegar makers has a master’s degree in electrical engineering, we have medical bio-technologists, we have honours chemists, we have physics and maths grads. All of my staff, largely gen Y’s, every single one of them owns a home, nobody rents.”

This is in stark contrast to the situation in the city where businesses often operate in less-than-optimal conditions and many young people feel priced-out of the housing market.

Mr Henderson would like to see more of the flourishing food production industry move out of cities and into rural areas, as he says interesting jobs are the only thing sometimes lacking in rural life.

With his business going from strength to strength, Mr Henderson wants to share the love with other producers, in what he sees as a win-win for both companies and regional areas.

 

Re-post ~ High-tech vinegar a success story of the new bush ‘gold rush’ by Phillipa Courtney on ABC News
Website ~ Lirah Vinegar

Arts festival cements community in regional town

In April this year, the Cementa Arts Festival once again brought vibrancy and innovation to the the small town of Kandos in NSW.  There could have been a post-industrial void caused by the closure of the town’s major industry, the cement works. However the art festival and its spin-offs have brought thousands of visitors to the town and created links with artists whose fresh perspectives the locals are slowly warming to.

 

At nearby Ganguddy/Dunn’s Swam local groups Powerhouse Youth Theatre and Dauntless Movement Crew presented Pagoda Parkour as part of the Cementa festival.

 

Kandos used to be home to the largest cement works in the Southern Hemisphere and was even originally named for its links with the cement and mining industry. When the plant closed down in 2012 many jobs were lost and it was feared that the town would die.

Ann Finegan, an academic and contemporary arts worker, had a bigger vision however. She saw the closure of the cement factory as an ‘opportunity for transformation’.

 

“We believe the presence of this industrial heritage in the rural heartland of NSW provides an ideal context for the demonstration of contemporary art’s capacity to describe, engage, critique and celebrate both the world and our living in it.”

 

 

Artists doing residencies in Finnegan’s high-street art space, which was previously a haberdashery, began engaging with the community and the idea for the Cementa festival was born. This focus on community engagement and working with the regional setting has carried through to become a dominant flavour of the biennial festival.

 

“Artists cannot be in the festival unless they have done a residency in Kandos or have work related to the town in some way,” says Finegan. “We’re really working to deepen regional engagement.”

 

This year’s Cementa Arts Festival hosted more than 60 artists and is a heartening example of what is possible for small rural towns transitioning from an industrial heritage.

 

Repost ~ Cementa arts festival: building a cultured environment at Kandos by Katie Milton in The Sydney Morning Herald

Read more ~ Cementa Arts Festival Website

Australia’s female farmers are the ‘invisible women’ driving innovation in sustainable agriculture

48% of real farm income in Australia is produced by women, yet their work often goes unrecognised. However, this may be changing, as a recent article in The Guardian highlights the up-and-coming female farmers who are emerging as thought-leaders and innovators in sustainable agribusiness.

 

Anika Molesworth was named Young Farmer of the Year in 2015

 

When looking for examples of empowered female farmers, you need look no further than Anika Molesworth. She completed her undergraduate degree in agribusiness by correspondence after watching a ten year drought ravage her family’s farm in western NSW. She is now studying for a PhD in agriculture climate science and is experimenting with new technology on the farm.

“The younger generation are so much more aware of what is happening around the world. We do go travelling. We are studying with colleagues from all over the world and we are bringing those ideas to the farming landscape.”

 

Many women (50% of women on farms) support farming families through their work off-farm. As well as increasing farm income, this is one way that Molesworth hopes to have a greater impact on farming practices, by combining her farm work with being a consultant and educator in sustainable farming.

There are also those seeking to change how female farmers are viewed and understood at a societal level; Invisible Farmer, a new project funded by the Australian Research Council, aims to remedy the gender inequality which has been endemic in farming for centuries, and continues to be so, partly due to the fact that sons traditionally inherit the farm. The project aims to ‘create new histories of rural Australia [and] reveal the hidden stories of women on the land’. Katrina Sasse, a 29-year-old farmer from Morawa in Western Australia brings the encouraging news that around 10% of daughters are going back to work on family farms, and the number is growing.

 

“There are a lot of stories where women feel discontented because they feel ignored or they have been pushed away and they don’t have any influence in the decision-making on the future of the family farm.”

 

Sasse’s research looks at ways to get daughters more involved in family farms by examining what their strengths are, what they can bring to the business and how they can be included in the succession plan.

 

Read More ~ Women: the silent partners of agriculture by M. Alston of Charles Sturt University

Re-post ~ ‘Invisible farmers’: the young women injecting new ideas into agriculture by Fiona Smith in The Guardian

Fraser Island national park re-named in recognition of traditional ownership

The area of national park which takes up most of Queensland’s Fraser Island has been re-named K’gari (pronounced ‘gurri’) in honour of the local Butchulla creation story.

The Butchulla were granted native title over Fraser Island in 2014 and have incorporated their three laws into new signs which advertise the new name at the island’s three barge landings.

 

The three laws of the Butchulla people are included on the new signs: “What is good for the land comes first; If you have plenty, you must share; Do not touch or take anything which does not belong to you.”

 

The rest of the the Great Sandy National Park on the mainland south of the island, will not have a name change.

Elder and Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation director Ms Bird emphasises the importance of this first step in the name change and the new signage:

 

“It’s important because everyone, especially the Butchulla people, when they go over there and they step onto K’gari, Fraser Island, and see our signs, they will know that this is our country.”

 

In the Butchulla people’s creation story, K’gari was a spirit princess who helped to create what is now known as Hervey Bay. Believing that land to be the most beautiful place ever created, K’gari asked to stay there and was transformed into the island, where she remains to this day.

 

K’gari/Fraser Island is famous for its miles of white-sand beaches and freshwater perched lakes.

 

Ms Bird continues her 30 year campaign to re-name the island as a whole. Although the Government designated K’gari as an ‘alternative name’ in 2011, many of the area’s traditional landowners would like to see the name given equal status with Fraser island, as has happened at Uluru/Ayer’s Rock.

Re-post ~ Fraser Island’s national park renamed K’gari, meaning paradise by Jess Lodge on ABC NEWS

Turnaround as Tamworth welcomes diversity

A recent photo essay in the Guardian tells the stories of several families who are newcomers to Tamworth. The article notes the turnaround in the community’s attitude towards outsiders. It also celebrates the work of Multicultural Tamworth, an organisation which has been instrumental in creating greater understanding and appreciation of diversity through ‘open and honest discussion’.

In 2006 Tamworth attracted national criticism by voting down a proposal to re-settle five Sudanese families who were fleeing from war and persecution. However, the Guardian’s photo essay tells a different and very refreshing story. What’s more, Eddie Whitham, the founder of Multicultural Tamworth ~ an organisation with the ethos of being good “neighbours to newcomers” ~ says the region is now welcoming and celebrating diversity.

“Tamworth is very much home, a great community.” Says third-generation Fijian Indian, Shalini Pratap who moved to Tamworth in 2003.

 

Nicole Li, an engineering surveyor, arrived with her husband and 9-year-old son in 2014 on a skilled migrants visa. ““Coming from Beijing, we love the quiet and less-stressful lifestyle. We feel very free.”

 

Deborah Manyang moved to Tamworth in 2015 after spending time in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. “It’s safe here,” she says. “We can’t hear guns or see soldiers. We’re happy. It’s a new future for our children, they are adapting well and the local people have been very helpful.”

 

Tamworth cavalcade

Multicultural Tamworth and immigrant families took part in Tamworth’s country music festival for the first time this year, reflecting the change in attitudes.

 

This year’s Australia Day marked the changing attitude to multiculturalism in Tamworth when 37 Tamworth residents became Australian citizens.

Eddie Witham is working to see this trend continue.

 

“We need to find a common ground. It’s not going to work if we have isolated people. We want to make our town work. The hope is that this will become a natural thing ~ that there will be no us and them.”

 

Re-post ~ ‘Neighbours to newcomers’ ~ portraits from Tamworth by Lisa Maree Williams in The Guardian Australia

A Trillion Trees

Plant For The Planet, a global tree-planting movement sparked by a nine-year-old’s school project, has joined forces with the UN’s Billion Trees Campaign. They aim to encourage the planting of at least one billion native trees each year worldwide. In the first five years of the campaign 12,585,293,312 were planted and they are still going strong.

Stop talking, start planting: Giselle Bundchen shows her support for the tree-planting projecte

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen with campaign founder Felix Finkbeiner, showing her support for the tree-planting initiative.

Felix Finkbeiner set the challenge to plant a million trees in his home country of Germany when he was nine years old, inspired by founder of the Greenbelt Movement Wangari Maathai, who he learnt about during a school project. Felix planted his first tree outside the gates of his school in 2007 and by the time he was 13 his message had spread and he was speaking at international conferences. That year, in 2011, the one millionth tree was planted in Germany.

The charismatic Finkbeiner, who is now studying at university in London, has inspired a generation of young activists to believe in their ability to influence change.

 

“I knew he was this legendary kid,” says Aji Piper, a 15-year-old tree “ambassador” in Seattle who met Finkbeiner in 2015. Piper, an activist and plaintiff in a children’s’ lawsuit against the United States government over climate change, regards Finkbeiner as a role model.

“We saw he was doing speeches. He was so young. Very impressive. That’s the skill level I want to get to.”

 

The campaign also prompted the first global tree count, carried out by NASA, which showed that there are around three trillion trees on the planet, over seven times more than was previously estimated. However, with deforestation occurring at a rate of 10 billion trees per year, the coalition realised that they needed to up their goal from a billion to a trillion trees planted… and they took on the challenge, adding their weight to other tree-planting initiatives around the world.

 

Reviving The Redwoods: The Life’s Work of David Milarch

Re-post ~ Teenager Is on Track To Plant A Trillion Trees by Laura Parker in National Geographic

Find out more and get involved ~ Plant For The Planet; Bonn Challenge

Putting people first in impact investment

Genuinely involving local people in impact investment can open up new investment pipelines and make for better outcomes for investors and communities, says Kelly Ryan from the US-based Incourage Community Foundation, in a recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Incourage is a “place-based philanthropy, community developer, and impact investor” which has been working in a rural area of Central Wisconsin for over a decade. They are regenerating a local economy that was severely impacted by the sale of paper manufacturer Consolidated Papers in 2000. This led to a 40% loss of area jobs within three years.

 

Involving community in impact investment

 

We are forging a new operating model as true community steward; advancing a long-term vision of inclusive community where residents and institutions are equipped with the skills, tools, and agency to shape the communities they want.

 

Impact investment can be much more than a top-down injection of cash into a community. Focusing on community involvement can diversify the benefits, creating a bigger bang for each invested buck.

Ways of working

Kelly mentions three ways that Incourage apply this model within the community:

  1. Strengthening residents’ sense of ownership over the future of their region. Building community capacity by involving them directly in investment projects.
  2. Redefining people’s understanding of what has value in communities. Moving away from a purely financial capital mindset. Recognising and building on the social and intellectual capital of residents.
  3. Modelling values-aligned behaviour in their organisation. Discussions are then initiated on how this can be carried through in impact investments.

 

 

We have learned that an infusion of financial capital by itself does not yield behavior change and inclusive, sustainable economic growth. Change requires that we connect and leverage different kinds of capital ~ including moral, human, social, intellectual, reputational, and natural capital.

 

Local and Global

In order to have greater control over the way the wider economy impacts the community, Incourage also invest in and engage with companies who operate in their area to encourage business practices which have local benefits. They also take care to ensure that success is measured in terms of outcomes defined by the community itself as well as by global financial measures.

 

Read the original SSIR article on how Incourage are putting people and place at the centre of their impact investment strategy here.

Click here for a list of Impact Investment organisations within Australia.