First national-scale snapshot of how marine researchers engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
Australian marine scientists demonstrate positive aspirations to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in research. Many scientists are unsure about where the responsibility for engagement lies, however, and what research is of interest to Indigenous communities.
These are key findings of a Marine Biodiversity Hub study that surveyed 128 marine scientists to understand how they had engaged with Indigenous communities during their research careers. The survey has established a baseline for monitoring future changes in the scientists’ motivations, perceptions and practices.
The study team included Hub deputy director, Paul Hedge, and scientists Ingrid van Putten, Cass Hunter, and Mibu Fischer of CSIRO.
Wessel Marine Park Post-Survey Report for IN2019T02
In October 2019, opportunistic mapping and imagery of the Wessel Marine Park on the RV Investigator revealed a localised band of high biodiversity linked to a unique and culturally important geomorphological feature in the otherwise uniform seascape prevalent in the Wessel Marine Park. Our findings help contribute to an understanding of the values of a northern marine park, including an inventory of communities and habitats as well as potential relationships to geomorphic features and culturally important sites. This has national significance to the implementation of the northern marine park management plan, as well as informing future monitoring programs in northern Australia.
Perceptions, motivations and practices for Indigenous engagement in marine science in Australia
Australian science has evolved to include a number of initiatives designed to promote and guide ethical and culturally appropriate Indigenous participation and engagement. While interest and overall engagement between Indigenous people and marine scientists appears to have grown in the last decade there are also signs that some researchers may not be setting out to engage with Indigenous Australians on the right foot. This research seeks to move beyond anecdotal evidence about engagement of marine researchers with Indigenous Australians by gathering empirical information from the scientists’ perspective. Our survey of 128 respondents showed that 63% (n = 79) of respondents have engaged with Indigenous communities in some way throughout their career, however, most marine research projects have not included Indigenous engagement and when it occurs it is often shorter than 3 years in duration. Responses indicated that the majority of marine scientists see mutual benefits from engagement, do not avoid it and believe it will become more important in the future. We identify a number of challenges and opportunities for marine research institutions, marine researchers and Indigenous communities if positive aspirations for engagement are to be converted to respectful, long-term and mutually beneficial engagement.
As well as partnering through our research projects, since 2016 we have championed and sponsored annual Indigenous workshops at Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) conferences to raise the profile, share successes and identify pathways to meaningful research collaboration. Here is a collection of projects and publications relating to the Hub’s collaborative sea country research.