Indigenous peoples from around the world gather in Darwin to focus on land and sea management

The World Indigenous Network (WIN) conference drew together Indigenous peoples from all over the planet gather in Darwin late May to comprehensively focus on land and sea management.

The aim was to provide a rewarding and enriching experience, ensuring that land and sea mangers from around the globe had an opportunity to contribute.

Rangelands NRM WA’s Indigenous NRM Projects facilitator, Bevan Gray attended the meeting and found it to be an extremely worthwhile experience.

“This inaugural event will be ongoing and may occur every two years.”

The conference theme was overseen by Australian and international Indigenous peoples, with Natural Resource Management at the forefront of the week’s agenda.

Mr Gray said a ranger exchange program was also run in conjunction with this conference where international rangers travelled to various places throughout Australia in the preceding week to integrate with local indigenous ranger teams, share knowledge and practices then deliver a presentation to the WIN participants.

One of the outcomes is the establishment of an Australian Indigenous Ranger Network and Mr Gray has volunteered to be part of this.

“The daily agendas were very full with a short introductory session held each morning with guest speakers before the information sessions began,” Mr Gray said.

“On the final day participants were broken into geographical group to collate the findings from the WIN Conference information sessions, stalls, workshops, presentations and networking opportunities - which flowed freely all week. The findings are to be collated and disseminated when complete.”

Mr Gray said the entire conference was recorded by television crews. Every one of the information sessions & workshops was captured and is available on the WIN website.

“Follow the links and enjoy the ride just as all present got to do,” Mr Gray said.

“Make sure you watch the closing ceremony where you will see old Tiwi Islander ladies boogying with Masai warriors in full dress.”

“The colour of your skin has nothing to do with being Indigenous. I’m sure many of those present will never think the same again as we saw Sami ladies from Lapland display everything that it means in being an aboriginal person.

“Their love of the land and all that it encompasses is no different to anyone else. The spiritual values and respect for forebears is just as great as for an aboriginal man in the desert regions of Australia. It’s just that they live in a frozen land many miles away from Darwin and its barmy climate,” Mr Gray said.

“Please find the time to learn from the WIN website. You will be there without leaving the room. I promise you.”

Background

The gathering was a creation from an idea developed between the then Minister for the Environment Tony Burke and former Kimberley Land and Sea Council CEO Wayne Bergmann in 2011.

They had discussed the possibility of an international knowledge sharing network for Indigenous land and sea managers. Several entities became involved in sponsorship including Woodside Energy, DSEWPaC & FaHCSIA supported by partners such as the Indigenous Landholders Corporation, GHD Consultancy, CSIRO, the Nature Conservancy, PEW Environmental group and many others.

This level of engagement with sponsorships and partnerships led to a fantastic event that was very professionally run. A credit to all involved.

Image used courtesy of the WIN Secretariat. Photography by Wayne Quilliam.