Promoting partnerships for Sea Country Research and Monitoring in Western Australia: A snapshot of Indigenous, science and management agency partners

The potential benefits of collaborative science projects on Saltwater Country in Western Australia (WA) are many. Examples of successful collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners that deliver a suite of co-benefits were showcased at recent events such as the 2019 AMSA conference.

The common elements of these success stories include the establishment of trusted relationships built on cross cultural understanding, clearly defined engagement processes, research agreements, and allocation of adequate resources to achieve agreed objectives.

In some parts of the state where capacity allows and governance structures are well established, there has been investment in developing culturally appropriate research protocols from community standards. In other areas, recently recognised Native Title holders are working hard to develop the capacity required to undertake science activities. Yet other saltwater groups are progressing through the lengthy process of seeking recognition of their Native Title rights.

This wide variability in the development, resourcing and capacity of Indigenous groups to participate and lead science projects on their saltwater Country is an important consideration for research institutions and management agencies looking to develop collaborative projects. Similarly, it is important for Indigenous communities to understand and evaluate the partnership opportunities among the various marine science institutions and management agencies operating within Western Australia.

While this document will not address all of the challenges, it aims to provide a big picture perspective of potential partners for Sea Country science in WA by providing simple, overview information of both Indigenous saltwater groups and western science agendas within the state.

In the following pages, we provide time-bound snapshots of thirty Western Australian saltwater Native Title holders and claimant groups; eight government agencies with significant marine science agendas; four major marine science collaborations; three professional organisations; and four major WA universities.

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of Sea Country science, as well as the growing number of marine science institutions and management agencies seeking Indigenous input and engagement, we acknowledge that the information provided will become progressively outdated. The document should not be seen as a complete representation of all Indigenous groups or land and sea capacity, or of marine science and management programs in WA. Nonetheless, we hope that it is one of many tools supporting Indigenous communities, science institutions and marine managers to develop collaborative and respectful partnerships enabling science that provides important benefits to people and their Country.

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