Indigenous focus in State of the Environment report

Posted: July 22nd, 2022

The recently released Australia State of the Environment 2021 report has combined scientific, traditional and local knowledge with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people working together for the first time to create an overall holistic assessment.

Conducted every five years, the inclusion of Indigenous authors, an entire Indigenous-led theme and Indigenous-specific case studies marks a significant change to the reporting – with the CSIRO highly supportive of the approach.

Australia State of the Environment 2021 aims to help shape policy and action, influence behaviours and highlight the complex relationships between Country, culture and people.

The report noted:

  • There is a deep interconnection between the health of Country and the health of Indigenous people.
  • Indigenous knowledge and sustainable cultural practice are key to environmental management.
  • Indigenous cultural principles need greater recognition in environmental management and development approvals where other values, such as economic goals, often override them.

Major themes regarding Indigenous stakeholders’ expectations from both the government and report included the need for:

  • An Indigenous voice present in the national environmental discussion with increased participation in decision-making.
  • Better valuing Indigenous knowledge (from traditional knowledge-holders, not just Indigenous scientists).
  • Genuine engagement with realistic timeframes. Governments should reach out to all levels of community to include the diversity of Indigenous voices, recognising traditional knowledge often sits at a grassroots level.
  • Community-led solutions tailored to individual communities.
  • Continually collecting information in the years between reports.
  • Using plain English, so everyone can understand.
  • Long-term commitments from government, industry and community partners, in terms of programs and investments.
  • Removing barriers that Indigenous communities are expected to overcome to access resourcing.
  • More training programs to support caring for Country.

View the whole Australia State of the Environment 2021 report or go straight to the Indigenous chapter.