Project Leader: Joe Morrison, Executive Officer, NAILSMA
Full Title: Integrating research with Indigenous land and sea
This project aims to improve coordination, collaboration and
engagement of Indigenous land and sea managers and owners into the
TS–CRC its partners and its current and future project
portfolio. The project will improve Indigenous people’s
engagement by hosting an annual land and sea management policy
forum and regionally based Indigenous leadership forums targeting
aspiring Indigenous land managers and owners.
The project draws on the North Australian Indigenous Land and
Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA), which was established by the
peak Indigenous natural resource agencies across northern Australia
taking in the Kimberley the Top End of the Northern Territory, and
the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York in Queensland.
It exists as a Memorandum of Understanding between these groups,
but is a partner in the TS–CRC and one that can provide a
vehicle for improved research outcomes for Indigenous landowners
across the tropical savannas.
It is also publishing a bi-annual newspaper/newsletter,
Kantri Laif , giving voice to people in the bush as the
driving presence behind NAILSMA and therefore the
TS–CRC’s Indigenous engagement activities.
Finally, the project is supporting the development of Indigenous
land management across the tropical savannas by linking Indigenous
people with other groups engaged in land management across the
Project leader Joe Morrison also co-leads Theme 4: Human
Capability Development with the Peter Jacklyn, Communication
Coordinator of the TS–CRC. The project employs an additional
position, Samara Erlandson, to support the leadership, newspaper
and scholarship activities.
The project leader also manages a number of externally funded
initiatives that meet core requirements and objectives of the
- Land & Water Australia funded project Development of
Indigenous Knowledge capacity across northern Australia .
- Indigenous engagement in fire project: Developing
knowledge-based fire management for northern Australia savanna
communities: Phase 1
- NHT funded project: Dugong and Marine Turtle Management
- Land & Water Australia funded project: Indigenous
engagement in water management across northern Australia’s
- The Christensen Fund project: North Australia Indigenous
Leadership, Scholarship and Communication project: Adding value to
NAILSMA activities in 2004.
- The Christensen Fund project: The 2005 and 2006 NAILSMA Forums:
Indigenous Elders and the proactive management, ownership and
conservation of Indigenous Knowledge across northern
Indigenous people are major occupiers, owners, users and
managers of land across northern Australia and this role is ever
increasing. Indigenous interests are both cross-sectoral and unique
(e.g. with multi-faceted, long-term interests in land;
qualitatively different ownership/responsibility relationships with
land and sea country; complex governance issues and a lack of
direct representative decision making).
Adequate involvement by Indigenous people in the Tropical
Savannas Management CRC (TS–CRC) requires a coordinated
approach to integration, collaboration and communication.
For Indigenous people in the tropical savannas there are many
common issues, problems, aspirations and circumstances
Many species of flora and fauna that are shared across state
boundaries and occur across the tropical savannas with which
Indigenous interest is multi-faceted and unique.
The links between families/clans/language groups and specific
areas of land are still strong in the minds of many elders and some
younger people but shifts to towns, missions and settlements make
it harder to maintain those links by being on and managing
In many areas indigenous knowledge or ‘Indigenous
knowledge’ is being lost at an alarming rate with communities
seeking support to maintain and "actively conserve" this
Much Indigenous held lands remain in good condition having
avoided industrial development, but there is increasing pressure on
these lands to provide wealth.
Post-colonial changes in fire, spread of weeds and damage from
feral animals threaten the health of people and of country.
Resources, including money, are required to enable people to
apply both western science tools and indigenous knowledge tools to
address these problems.
Landowners across the top need a strong voice to get help to
care for country.
The project aims to give voice to Indigenous land managers and
owners across the tropical savannas and provide leadership support
focused on the research and resourcing needs of the Indigenous
estate across northern Australia. The project will increase
networking between Traditional Owners (TOs) of land and sea across
northern Australia, and improve their communication and information
exchange with outside agencies.
In particular, the project will:
- Facilitate an annual land managers forum with representation
across the tropical savannas with perceived outcomes to increase
collaboration, communication and engagement of Indigenous people
into the TS–CRC and its partners.
- Facilitate a series of regional Indigenous leadership forums
with representation across the tropical savannas, which aims to
support the development of leadership at the local, regional and
north Australian scale.
- Publish a bi-annual newspaper or insert as a means of
communicating the aspirations, research and outcomes of Indigenous
- Provide support to current TS–CRC funded projects
targeting Indigenous audiences such as the current ethno-ecological
knowledge projects and where applicable provide on-ground support
and direction to these.
- Increase networking between Indigenous owners and managers of
land across north Australia with outside agencies and stakeholder
- Assist Indigenous land managers and owners to create
opportunities for the transfer of knowledge and development of
leadership across generations at the local level (for example,
family-based "back to country" camps).
- Represent Indigenous interests at all levels in institutions to
further the aims of the alliance (in the first instance, on the
Board of the TS–CRC).
- Develop suitable media including presented papers to promote
the objectives of the alliance.
- Identify requirements for sustainable management of natural and
cultural resources on Indigenous-held lands across the tropical
- Seek additional resources to address research aspirations of
Aboriginal communities in relation to land and sea management.
The project will maintain a tropical savannas reference group of
managers and owners to provide direction for the North Australian
Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (refer above steering
group). NAILSMA has a broad charter to address issues of importance
to the sustainable occupation and use of country by Indigenous
people. The Alliance will continue to collaborate with the
TS–CRC and its partner agencies to improve communication with
Aboriginal land managers and owners across the savannas and enable
effective, high-level engagement of Indigenous leaders in the