Over the weekend, Misko, Clare and I from Alluvium attended cross cultural training in Barmah, Yorta-Yorta country. This weekend was part of our preparations for the “Dialogues on Country” initiative that Alluvium staff are developing together with Engineers Without Borders and a few other individuals from the engineering, arts and research disciplines. Yorta-Yorta member, Neville Atkinson, spoke to us about the history of the Yorta-Yorta people, the importance and value of “country” and a range of issues and values of his people. Standing on the banks of the Murray River, we learnt about Indigenous knowledge and values in relation to land and water, and we discussed the current frameworks of river management and the future of the region, in particular changes with the recent announcement of the Barmah-Millewa National Park. Neville gave generously his time and knowledge, and helped us to achieve a much richer and deeper understanding of his people’s culture than we started with.
On the banks of the Murray River
The “Dialogues on Country” tour that we are developing seeks to create positive change in the engineering profession, with particular focus on water and land management, through a dialogue between professionals in the water industry and the Indigenous Nations within the Murray Darling Basin. Through participating in this educational trip, professionals will develop their capacity to engage with Indigenous Australians and will better understand Indigenous Australians’ relationship to water and country. We anticipate that participants will then work within their sphere of influence to ensure the knowledge they gain from Indigenous Australians is embedded in land and water practices, management and policy.
The group of 8 of us developing the tour, including 3 from Alluvium, will depart in August to meet with representatives from Indigenous Nations in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia, to discuss the proposed tour and develop relationships that we hope will form the basis of future tours.