New Cultural Advisors for Gwydir and Warrego-Darling regions
Gingham Waterhole of the Gwydir Wetlands. Photo credit: UNE.
“Our country and our water sustained Aboriginal people since time immemorial and are crucial for our health, our spirit and our web of life, thus the survival of all species”
– Liz Taylor
A new pilot program in the Gwydir and Warrego-Darling regions has recently commenced to help guide communication and engagement between Traditional Owners and MER water scientists on Gomeroi and Gurnu-Baakandji land. The new Cultural Advisors are helping to facilitate knowledge sharing and engagement with the local aboriginal communities.
In the Gwydir region, home to the Gomeroi Nation, Liz Taylor is taking over the pilot Cultural Advisor role. Liz is deeply passionate about Indigenous Peoples’ rights and ensuring their land, water and cultural heritage are maintained and passed on.
Liz Taylor – the Gwydir region’s new Cultural Advisor, Jane Humphries – CEWO, Shjarn Winkle and Paul Frazier – 2rog (left-right). Photo credit: 2rog.
Liz has previous experience working on Country, especially in wetlands for cultural heritage assessments, cultural education and wetlands conservation programs. Liz hopes the new initiative will help reconnect the Gomeroi people with their land and its management and emphasises the importance of listening and learning from Traditional Owners. In the Cultural Advisors role, Liz will be working alongside the Flow-MER team to produce an education resource, with the possibility of also hosting an event on-Country. The educational resource will be used to bring together knowledge and educate more people about the importance of Aboriginal knowledge.
This pilot program is hoped to continually build on the relationship between science and traditional knowledge, specifically in the “Warrambools”, the waterholes and wetlands, which are important parts of the Gwydir region’s landscape.
In the Warrego-Darling region, Kevin Knight will be taking over the role of Cultural Advisor. The Warrego-Darling region is on Gurnu-Baakandji land, where Kevin grew up camping, swimming and playing on the Baaka (Darling) River’s banks. Kevin describes the Baaka as the lifeblood that has resourced his people for thousands of years. For Kevin, “the health of the river and its floodplains ties directly to the health of [his] people”.
Kevin Knight (right) is the Cultural Advisor for the Warrego-Darling region. Pictured with Jason Wilson – CEWO (left). Photo credit: Jason Wilson.
Like Liz, Kevin will also be working alongside the Flow-MER team in the Baaka region. The team will be absorbing and capturing his knowledge and promoting and facilitating connection to Country for the local community.
In recent years Kevin has become well acquainted with the Warrego-Darling Selected Area, now Toorale National Park, through his role identifying cultural assets across the site, which help tell the stories of the Baakandji people, which link the Gurnu-Baakandji people to the site long before European arrival.
Brolgas, a Gurnu-Baakandji Totem, on the Western Floodplain. Photo credit: UNE.
“When the Brolga is dancing, the people of the river too, are dancing”
– Kevin Knight
The Flow-MER team working in the Gwydir and Warrego-Darling regions will be using the valuable resources provided by Kevin and Liz to support their community engagement, and it is hoped blending traditional and scientific knowledge will improve local awareness of biodiversity and increase use of Traditional Owners’ knowledge of river and floodplain ecosystems.
The Gwydir is a special place with significant environmental, cultural and economic values. Our work here focuses on monitoring and evaluating the outcomes water for the environment enables in some of the largest waterbird breeding colonies in Australia. We also work in the rivers and floodplains to assess water quality, fish breeding and food webs.
The Warrego-Darling is a unique and diverse system that supports a rich diversity of plants and animals in a constantly changing environment. Our work here is to collect data, monitor ecosystem interactions and evaluate our findings so we can provide accurate and reliable information to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office for the effective management of environmental water.
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