The Our Knowledge, Our Way in caring for Country – Best Practice Guidelines from Australian Experience, launched on 30 July 2020, identify ways in which non-Indigenous individuals and organisations can support ‘good knowledge practice’, such as through strong partnership agreements and via support for cultural governance arrangements and protocols.
The guidelines are based on 23 case studies across Australia, from the Top End’s Torres Strait to Tasmania. Together, they highlight ‘how Indigenous knowledge is kept strong through access to Country and Indigenous cultural governance of knowledge’, states CSIRO.
The key principle is that ‘Indigenous people must decide what is best practice in working with Indigenous knowledge’.
One example in the guidelines is the Savanna Burning Projects, says NAILSMA CEO Ricky Archer. The project is “a cultural burning practice that’s been put through an academic framework to measure things like carbon”, he explains. It exemplifies how combining Indigenous cultural knowledge systems and Western knowledge frameworks can produce optimal results, Archer says.
Compiling the Our Knowledge Our Way guidelines involved a collective effort by The North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA); CSIRO; and the Australian Committee for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The new guidelines have been lauded by key CSIRO partners as ‘filling a large gap in the research world’.
“These guidelines better value and strengthen Indigenous knowledge holders and the systems that need to be in place to protect Traditional knowledge, in a platform that can be readily accessed by the researchers and the broader community,” Archer says.
Torres Webb, Cultural Capability Advisor at CSIRO, proud Far North Queensland resident and Torres Strait islander, agrees.
“The guidelines will support my work with scientists and others,” he says.
“They showcase best and promising practices in working together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities, especially how we move forward on journey towards Indigenous-led science, excellence and innovation.”
Source: First Indigenous-led guidelines on knowledge-sharing welcomed I CSIRO