Aboriginal Natural Resource Management (NRM) is managing natural resources such as land and water systems but with a cultural perspective. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia identify these natural resources as country and have a cultural connection and responsibility to manage country that has been passed down for tens of thousands of years. ACT NRM delivers projects that support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community care for Country.
The Aboriginal NRM Facilitator has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees at the Alexander Machonocie Centre (AMC) since 2013 through the delivery of the Culture and Land Management (CALM) program to detainees.
The CALM program is a partnership with ACT NRM, Campbell-Page, Greening Australia and ACT Corrective Services that focuses on cultural and environmental activities while gaining non-accredited and accredited training (Conservation and Land Management certificate). Highlights of the program in include:
- sessions on how to identify and protect Aboriginal heritage sites
- making Aboriginal artefacts
- identifying native plant species and soil profiles
- workshops on kinship and leadership.
The Aboriginal NRM Facilitator is currently supporting Campbell-Page and Greening Australia extending a work area for detainees to focus on horticulture training with the aim to support the protection of local native grasslands.
Research has shown that many Aboriginal youth experience difficulty in engaging with education resulting in high absenteeism and often total disengagement with formal schooling. Providing a different type of experience in the school setting can lead to more positive feelings about school in general.
School connectedness (through approaches focused on cultural identity, skills and relationships) increases the likelihood that students will attend regularly and experience success. Using culture and land management enhances ‘connection to Country’ and supports better educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
The Kickstart My Career Through Culture program (Kickstart) works with and supports at-risk youth including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the ACT. Kickstart is partnership between ACT NRM, Education Directorate, Yurauna Centre and the Community Services Directorate.
The program engages Ngunnawal Elders and others within the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to share cultural knowledge with students, such as field trips with cultural activities. While the program focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, non Aboriginal students will also be allowed to participate. This contributes to broader cultural awareness amongst peers and the wider school community.
ACT NRM partnered with the United Ngunnawal Elders Council, Ngunnawal community, ACT Parks and Conservation Service, and Greening Australia to produce the Ngunnawal Plant Use guide recognising 69 plant species including method of propagation and the cultural values and uses to the Ngunnawal people. The guide identifies plant resources that Ngunnawal people used for such things as food, medicines, tools, weapons, shelter, ceremonial purposes and hunting.
Plants like Native raspberry (Rubus parvifolius); Kurrajong Tree (Brachychiton populneus) and Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata) are native to southeast Australia and have much significance to many Aboriginal Nations including the Ngunnawal people. The guide describes not only Ngunnawal names and Ngunnawal values and uses of plant species but also identifies common and botanical names to help readers.
The momentum of the development of the book has not stopped since its release to the public.
It is being used in various programs including:
- an educational resource throughout schools in ACT, Yass and Queanbeyan
- accredited training programs like the Conservation and Land Management certificates being taught at the Canberra Institute and Technology
- helping detainees at the Alexander Machonocie Centre undertaking horticulture training
- sharing knowledge in workshops with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations like Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service
- as a guide by Greening Australia helping community organisations develop their own bush tucker gardens
- showcased by the Murumbung Rangers in ACT Parks and Conservation Service during their cultural ranger guided activities.
The book is available for purchase for $22 (this includes GST and postage and handling). Find out more about how you can buy the book.