Indigenous research priorites endorsed

(From left) Jason Downs, Clarry Rogers and Jamie Damaso discuss indigenous research priorities at the second Townsville forum.

By Chris Calogeras

New strategic fisheries and aquaculture research, development & extension (RD&E) priorities have set the direction for further work with Australia’s Indigenous communities.

In November 2012, 45 participants from around Australia attended the second FRDC Indigenous RD&E Forum in Cairns, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders met to discuss and endorse RD&E priorities for the Indigenous sector of Australia’s fishing and seafood industry.

The forum was funded by the FRDC, with support from the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). It was a follow-up to the highly successful inaugural forum held in March 2011 (Cairns Forum 2011) where 11 key RD&E principles were developed.

Members of the FRDC Indigenous Reference Group nominated at the inaugural forum were charged with expanding the 11 principles into a more concise form that provided context, direction and clear outputs to guide RD&E. During the past 18 months, the Indigenous Reference Group, in conjunction with its other roles, has developed two key draft papers on the issue.

The first, Key RD&E Principles, Context and RD&E Outputs (Principles document), provided context to each of the 11 key principles and identified the type of RD&E outputs that were sought under each principle.

It was felt that a more concise version of the lengthy document would provide a more strategic and planned approach to identifying key RD&E priorities for indigenous participation in the industry.

The second paper, Indigenous RD&E Priorities for Fishing and Aquaculture (RD&E Priorities document) highlighted five key strategic priorities, each with a number of actions to help achieve the priorities.

While these two draft documents provided a basis for RD&E direction-setting during the past 12 months, their formal adoption was conditional on returning to the participants of the Cairns Forum 2011 for further input, endorsement or adoption.

The Cairns Forum 2012 provided the opportunity for participants to give this feedback, as well as providing a valuable networking opportunity.

The forum was undertaken in such a way as to enhance Indigenous participation and decision-making. During two days of discussion, the Indigenous participants endorsed the Principles and RD&E Priorities as sound documents to guide Indigenous-aligned RD&E in the fishing and seafood industry.

The FRDC has resourced the Indigenous Reference Group for a further three years through project 2012/405 Facilitation of the FRDC Indigenous Research Coordination Program to progress RD&E outcomes.

Forum participants assessed the work completed by the Indigenous Reference Group and endorsed the direction it has taken. They also supported a revised reference group to continue to bridge the gap in Indigenous-focused RD&E in the fishing and seafood industry.  

The forum received nominations for membership for the second phase of the reference group from the Indigenous participants. Group membership now includes Bo Carne (Northern Territory), Bryan Denny (Tasmania), Denise Lovett (Victoria), Dennis Ah-Kee (Queensland), Loralee Wright (South Australia), Petris Torres (Western Australia), Stan Lui (Torres Strait Islands) and Stephan Schnierer (New South Wales).

In addition, as part of succession planning and capacity building, Jason Wilson (NSW) and Michael Gilby (Victoria) were identified as associate members.

Copies of the Principles and the RD&E Priorities documents, the IRG Terms of Reference and the Forum Summary are available from the FRDC website

Indigenous RD&E Priorities for Fishing and Aquaculture

  • Primacy for Indigenous People: Indigenous people have certain recognised rights associated with and based on the prior and continuing occupation of country and water and activities (e.g. fishing, gathering) associated with the use and management of these.
  • Acknowledgement of Indigenous cultural practices: Indigenous people have the right to maintain and develop cultural practices to address spiritual, cultural, social and economic needs associated with aquatic resources and landscapes.
  • Self determination of Indigenous rights to use and manage cultural assets and resources: Indigenous people have the right to determine courses of action in relation to use and management of aquatic biological resources.  
  • Economic development opportunities arising from Indigenous people’s cultural assets and associated rights: Indigenous people have the right to engage in economic activity based on the use of traditional aquatic biological resources and/or the right to share in the benefits derived from the exploitation of aquatic biological resources. 
  • Capacity building opportunities for Indigenous people are enhanced: Indigenous people have the right to access capacity building activities to further their aspirations in the use and management of aquatic biological resources.

FRDC Research Code: 2012-405

More information

Chris Calogeras, IRG Secretariat, 0401 692 601