By Yasmine Phillips

An innovative new research project will aim to advance reconciliation in Australia by bringing together scientific expertise, history and Indigenous cultural knowledge to conserve the country’s precious biodiversity.

Federal Minister for Education, the Hon. Dan Tehan, today announced the Curtin University-led project has been awarded $994,000 over five years as part of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Indigenous Scheme, which supports research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers.

Project lead Mr Darryl Kickett, from Curtin’s School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry, said the research had potentially significant cultural and environment implications.

“This research project is unique because we are bringing together scientific expertise, history and rich cultural knowledge with the aim of finding the secret recipe to safeguard our country’s precious biodiversity for future generations,” Mr Kickett said.

“As a Nyungar man who grew up near the Dryandra Woodlands, near Narrogin, this valuable nature conservation area holds cultural significance to Indigenous people and I am grateful to the Wiilman Elders for their role in this project, which seeks to advance reconciliation by healing land and people.”

Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran congratulated the researchers involved on being awarded ARC funding for such a significant research project.

“The research aims to investigate biodiversity conservation and human resilience in one of the world’s 35 global biodiversity hotspots located here in Western Australia by advancing collaborations between Aboriginal environmental and cultural knowledge and Western science and humanities,” Professor Moran said.

“The project will deliver a model and case study for researching cultural heritage, history and healing strategies for First Nations people, especially Australian indigenous people, and develop sustainable ways of living with biodiversity through cross-cultural investigation.”

The project, titled ‘Healing Land, Healing People: Novel Nyungar Perspectives’, is being led by Mr Kickett in partnership with fellow Curtin researchers John Curtin Distinguished Professor Anna Haebich and Dr Carol Dowling, as well as Professor Stephen Hopper from The University of Western Australia and Dr Tiffany Shellam from Deakin University.

For more information about the ARC Discovery Indigenous Scheme, visit here.