Aboriginal people caring for
country: good for all of us
Dr Jocelyn Davies
CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Alice Springs
Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre
12 September 2008
Livelihoods inLand™ research
www.desertknowledgecrc.com.au
Critical understandings from land
management systems for ‘closing
the gap’ in desert Australia
Dr Jocelyn Davies
CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Alice Springs
Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre
12 September 2008
Livelihoods inLand™ research
www.desertknowledgecrc.com.au
Aboriginal land management –
desert Australia
• Uniquely placed for sustainable livelihood
outcomes (health, well being, income)
• Smaller settlements have a key role
• Cultural motivations are foundational
• Public investment is important to
enterprise viability – ‘social enterprise’
• Planning needs to join up land
management, health, education and arts
Complementary benefits from
Aboriginal land management
• Health and well being of Aboriginal people
• Bush food production, including commercial
• Cultural heritage, contributing to:
– national cultural life of Australia,
– local and export income through tourism and art
• Biodiversity conservation, including the
protection of threatened species
• Greenhouse gas mitigation, carbon
sequestration.
Closing the gap needs systems
thinking
ECONOMIC
PARTICIPATION
SCHOOLING
HEALTH
BUDGET 08
BUILDING BLOCKS
FOR
CLOSING THE GAP
EARLY
CHILDHOOD
GOVERNANCE
& LEADERSHIP
HEALTHY
HOMES
SAFE
COMMUNITIES
Engaging land management to
close the gap
ECONOMIC
PARTICIPATION
SCHOOLING
HEALTH
Land
management
GOVERNANCE
& LEADERSHIP
Caring for country
Working on country
EARLY
CHILDHOOD
HEALTHY
HOMES
SAFE
COMMUNITIES
WHO framework for social determinants of health
WHO Commission on Social Determinants
of Health, final report August 2008
WHO Commission on Social Determinants
Country/locality
of Health, final report August 2008
U
K
oo
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Ph
r
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ic
o
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ve
ra
ge
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w
,p
*
U
SA
sg
o
-B
-G
la
85
80
75
70
65
60
55
50
U
SA
U
K
Life expectancy (years)
Health follows a social gradient
*
*
*
*
Health gradient in work roles
84
82
80
78
76
74
72
70
68
66
64
Men
Pr
of
an
es
ag
si
er
on
ia
al
l&
te
Sk
ch
ille
ni
ca
d
no
l
nm
an
Sk
ua
ille
l
Pa
d
m
rt l
an
y
sk
ua
ille
l
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m
an
ua
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U
ns
kil
le
d
Women
M
Life expectancy (years)
Occupational class differences in life expectancy,
England and Wales 1997-9
Occupation category
Wilkinson &
Marmot. 2003
Social
determinants
of health,
WHO Europe
2nd Ed
Photo: Earthbound Consultants
Strong languages in desert Australia
Photo: Paul Hastings
Photo: Karissa Preuss
Photo: Karissa Preuss
Aboriginal population and settlement pattern
3
Ferrie (ed) 2004.
Work, stress and
health. Whitehall II
study,CCSU/Cabine
t Office, London
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
w
Lo
In
t
er
m
ed
iat
igh
e
0
H
Likelihood of coronary heart disease
Control at work & heart disease
Level of control at work (self reported)
CLIMATE VARIABILITY
Variability & extremeness
In primary drivers
(Rainfall, other weather)
SCARCE RESOURCES
Widespread low soil fertility
& patchy natural resources
SPARSE POPULATION
Sparse, mobile & patchy
Human population
REMOTENESS
Distant markets, business
education & political centres
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
Limited research,
local/traditional knowledge
relatively important
Stafford Smith, Mar 2008
Rangeland Journal, Vol 30
CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
Particular types of people,
cultures & institutions
SOCIAL VARIABILITY
Unpredictability in, or lack
of control over
markets, labour, policy
CLIMATE VARIABILITY
Variability & extremeness
In primary drivers
(Rainfall, other weather)
SCARCE RESOURCES
Widespread low soil fertility
& patchy natural resources
SPARSE POPULATION
Sparse, mobile & patchy
Human population
REMOTENESS
Distant markets, business
education & political centres
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
Limited research,
local/traditional knowledge
relatively important
Stafford Smith 2008
Rangeland Journal Vol 30
CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
Particular types of people,
cultures & institutions
SOCIAL VARIABILITY
Unpredictability in, or lack
of control over
markets, labour, policy
Land (‘country’) is central to
Aboriginal world views,
livelihood assets &
outcomes
Law
MK Turner: “Everything Comes from the Land” IAD Press
Kinship
Ceremony
Land
Plants &
Animals
Language
SEE ALSO: Pawu-Kurlpurlurnu WJ, Holmes M and Box L.
2008. Ngurra-kurlu: A way of working with Warlpiri people,
DKCRC Report 41. Desert Knowledge CRC, Alice Springs.
“Country and
people and land
and health and
[customary] Law
cannot be
separated. They
are all one.”
(Atkinson 2002)
Remote regions with strong Aboriginal property rights
Very poor Aboriginal health & well being
• Aboriginal life expectancy (national): 17-18 years
less than national average
Rangeland Australia:
• Aboriginal mortality rate: 3 x national average
• Aboriginal incidence End Stage Renal Disease:
30 x national average
• Aboriginal incomes: 25% non-Aboriginal incomes
Community wellbeing?
• Serious interlinked social issues including
alcoholism, domestic violence, child abuse, low
literacy
Social opportunity cost
• $1.5 billion p.a. or $27,000 p.a. per Aboriginal
person, in one jurisdiction
Explaining the paradox of remote Australia:
strong Aboriginal property rights but poor
Aboriginal health & wellbeing
• State transition in the social-ecological system
(land degradation, and loss of traditional
knowledge and know-how).
• Barriers to accessing traditional lands for ‘caring
for country’: poor health & social dysfunction,
distance, poverty, reliance on larger centralised
settlements for health & education services.
• Lack of a systems understanding: not
accounting for interrelationships between
sectors
Relationship between ‘caring for
country’ & chronic disease
• Building on previous research (health benefits of traditional diet,
better health at smaller settlements)
• Adult health checks of a representative sample (c300) in a
northern Australian settlement + triangulated self-assessment of
the time the people sampled spend in caring for country activities
(living at outstation, hunting, art, ceremony).
• Correlations between time on country and markers for three
chronic disease conditions, some pre-symptomatic
• Estimated probable change in severity for chronic disease
conditions per unit increase in engagement in ‘caring for country’:
• Analysed primary health care costs
• Concluded there are significant economic efficiencies for securing
improved health outcomes if engagement in land management is
increased, even by a relatively small amount.
• Now analysing generalisabity of these findings, inc in desert areas
(Campbell et al in prep; Burgess et al in prep and see Garnett, S and Sithole B
2007, Sustainable Northern Landscapes and the Nexus with Indigenous
Health: Healthy Country Healthy people. Land and Water Australia,
Canberra;)
3
HYPOTHETICAL
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
w
Lo
In
t
er
m
ed
iat
igh
e
0
H
disease risk
Chronic
Likelihood of coronary heart disease
Engagement in land management
and chronic disease risk.
Control over
(selfatassessed)
through
Levellife
of control
work (self reported)
engagement in land management
WHO framework for social determinants of health
WHO Commission on Social Determinants
of Health, final report August 2008
Understanding ‘caring for country’ as a
social – ecological system
Agency
Assets
Local
Assets
Other
Work
Caring for
country
Activities &
Projects
More
Activity
Improved
Health
New
Skills
More
Species
Stronger
Knowledge
Participant
Motivation
More Food
Harvested
Higher
Income
More
Art
Educated
Youth
Youth knowledge of country is a key
variable
Photo: Michael LaFlamme
“The old words tell us
where we come from”
Shane Jupurrula White
recording knowledge of his
responsibilities from elders
Photo: Karissa Preuss
Shane Jupurrula White
Youth
Increasing
Decaying
Knowledge
Knowledge per Year
Knowledge per Year
Knowlege per
~
Person Visit
Retention Rate
~
Elder
Knowledge
Knowledge
Maximum
Elder
Loss Rate
Loss Rate
Sharing Rate
Science
Youth
Knowledge
Visits
Number of Youth
Probability of
per Visit
Rate of Scientist
Choosing Country Visit
Sharing
Number
of Elders
Total
Country
Knowledge
Rate of
per
Elder
Elder
Sharing
Staff
Number of
Scientists
Knowledge
per
Visits
Turnover
Rate
Number of Youth
Scientist
Probability of
Being in Town
Family
Capacity
Modelling
optimal rates
youth engagement with
elders & country
Visits per Family
Visits
Families per year
per Year
Comm
Knowlege
Planned Visits
~
Valued
Year
Youth
Knowledge
Knowledge
~
Agency
Valued
Visits per 000
Planned Visits
Year
Agency
Capacity
Dollars per Year
Other
Activities
_
Systemic impacts
More income
from youth
engagement with More job TIME SPENT More other
ON COUNTRY
opportunities
elders & country
opportunities
Technacy,
literacy &
numeracy
Recording
information:
GIS &
multimedia
Natural
resource
management
contracts
+
YOUTH
KNOWLEDGE
Observations
named, shared in
local language and
English
Improved
nutrition
Country
visits
Countrybased
learning
+
PHYSICAL
HEALTH
More
physical
activity
Shop food
match to
bush food
seasons
Seasonal
changes
learned
Better fitness
Troubled questions….
• What do Aboriginal people actually do in land
management?
• Do we (society) really need that?
• Where is income going to come from?
• And isn’t education – literacy, numeracy actually very important?
• Does everyone out bush actually want to do land
management?
• What about all the other jobs that need to be
done in remote settlements?
• Who is going to pay for it?
• And how does it get organised?
Photo: Lucas Jordan
Photo: Karissa Preuss
Photo: Karissa Preuss
Do NRM programs follow principles
of customary Law?
“The IPA needs to
not be afraid of
being adopted by
Ngurra-kurlu”
Steven Jampijinpa Patrick,
Lajamanu
Signing North Tanami IPA Agreement
Photo: Karissa Preuss
Photo: Jane Walker
Photo: Karissa Preuss
Photo: Karissa Preuss
Pictures – caring for country
Photo: Karissa Preuss
Photo: Karissa Preuss
Photo: Josie Douglas
www.schools.nt.edu.au/tlcland
Track based monitoring
track plots
+
experienced trackers
=
meaningful data
Southgate and Moseby. 2008
Track based monitoring for the deserts and rangelands of Australia. NHT
funded, Report to WWF, TSN.
School DustWatch
www.school.dustwatch.edu.au
School DustWatch
Potential public sector demand, given capacity
State/Territory NRM responsibilities
(Contracted/facilitated)
AREA
Threatened
species
Water
A
B
Park
mgt
Pastoral
Feral
land
Wind
BioClimate
animals
condition
erosion security change
, weeds
monitoring
**
**
C
*
E
*
*
*
*
**
**
D
Other research and monitoring
**
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
Potential private sector demand, given capacity
Private sector
(Marketable,
based on
outcomes)
BurningGreen-house
AREA Gas
mitigation,
Carbon offsets
A
B
**
Labour or outcome-based contracts
Feral
animals
Fencing
*
*
**
C
*
Burning
Weed
control
*
*
*
*
D
*
*
*
E
*
*
*
Application of the cost-effectiveness plane in
joint production of health and environmental
services
1B: Positive
No policy
action
PUBLIC NET BENEFIT
incentives
+
2
1A
0
_
4
3A
3B
Negative
incentives
_
+
PRIVATE NET BENEFIT
Campbell, Davies &
Wakerman. 2007.
Desert Knowledge
CRC, Working
Paper #11;
and forthcoming in
Rural & Remote
Health Online
Journal
Principles for land management to
produce health & wellbeing outcomes,
covering…
• Authority structures accountable to customary
governance of land
• Intergenerational learning
• Partnerships for two-way learning about
environmental change
• Management approaches that promote social
learning and account for community and investor
aspirations
Planning for cross-sectoral
outcomes for local people and
investors
Land
Human Land management
knowledge, skills
Social Families actively
caring for land
Financial Income from land based enterprise
Physical Roads built to
important places
Natural Productivity of plants
and animals
Law
NRM guided by
customary law
Law taught and
learned
Money shared in a
proper way
‘Tools’ to meet
responsibilities
Important places
properly cared for
Language
Fluency, literacy in
languages
Languages taught
in school
Elders paid for
shared knowledge
Stories and photos
archived
Proper names of
plants, animals
Examples of outcomes
Ceremony
Youth become
responsible adults
All families keep
ceremonies alive
Payment for
cultural services
Transport for
country visits
Increases in
plants, animals
Kinship
Skills to keep
family healthy
All kin groups
teach in school
Family-based
enterprises
Well-maintained
family outstations
Regular family
country visits
Aboriginal land management –
desert Australia
• Uniquely placed for sustainable livelihood
outcomes (health, well being, income)
• Smaller settlements have a key role
• Cultural motivations are foundational
• Public investment is important to
enterprise viability – ‘social enterprise’
• Planning needs to join up land
management, health, education and arts
Thankyou
Collaborating & support organisations:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
Centre for Remote Health
Charles Darwin University
Northern Territory Government
Central Land Council
Community members and staff: Lajamanu, Yuendumu, Anmatjere, Wilowra, Ntaria, Nepabunna,
Hay
Warlpiri Media
Australian Government Department of the Water, Environment, Heritage and the Arts
Australian National University
Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
Land and Water Australia
Collaborating researchers including:
• David Campbell, Paul Burgess, Stephen Garnett, John Wakerman, Michael LaFlamme, Jane
Walker, Karissa Preuss, Josie Douglas, Fiona Walsh, Miles Holmes, Steven Jampijinpa Patrick.,
Lance Box,.
Photos: Earthbound consultants, Karissa Preuss, Paul Hastings, Michael LaFlamme, Jocelyn
Davies, Josie Douglas, Lucas Jordan, Jane Walker
This research is supported by funding from the Australian
Government Cooperative Research Centre Program through
the Desert Knowledge CRC; the views expressed do not
necessarily represent the views of Desert Knowledge CRC or
its Participants.
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