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Indigenous knowledge sharing platform wins Hackathon award


The AWA Victorian Bushfire Recovery Hackathon tasked water sector experts with solving some of the industries biggest challenges following the Black Summer fires, and the People’s Choice award went to a team developing a platform for Indigenous knowledge sharing.

The team titled 'Welcome to Country' is developing a podcast series which will take listeners on a similar journey to the one they undertook themselves, learning about traditional owner values, knowledge and wisdom and their importance to bushfire management.

The podcast series includes interviews on three themes: ‘A focus on prevention of bushfires’, ‘Social wellbeing’, and ‘Integrating systems – working together’. The themes were identified following extensive research by the team using the Royal Commission into Natural National Disasters, and consultation with agencies and Traditional Owners.

The podcast is the team’s solution to the Hackathon challenge statement they were tasked with: ‘How can Traditional Owner values be included in the recovery process of recreating a healthy waterway post bushfire?

Welcome to Country team leader Robbie Frawley said the process was a refreshing and engaging highlight during the COVID lockdowns.

“The team brought a great range of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, so everyone had something unique and valued to contribute,” he said.

”The majority of us do however come from typical water industry fields: engineering, science or natural resource management. This is not a typical engineering challenge though, so it was a great opportunity to engage in a totally different topic, to learn, to grow and to see the water industry from a very different perspective.

“When we got together, we were initially trying to understand what the challenge statement really referred to: what are Traditional Owners’ values when it comes to waterways?

“We were fortunate to have some fantastic mentors at this point with a great deal of personal and professional experience. Community and sector leaders who were able to talk about culture from a first-person perspective and who are incredibly generous with their time and guidance.

“We learnt about the challenges faced by the Aboriginal community with regard to engagement in waterway and bushfire recovery. It was a process of listening and learning.”

In terms of presenting the best way to present their learnings in a way that would lead to broader conversations regarding Traditional Owners’ values and waterway recovery, Frawley said the team went with a medium that was able to reflect the importance of storytelling.

“We sought to bring our learnings back to the initial challenge and to figure out what we could do to begin to address it. We learnt along the process that there's already a huge resource of knowledge that's been put together on this subject, and that a lot of people, like us, might not necessarily be aware of that,” he said.

“Rather than trying to recreate the wheel, we decided it would be more effective to engage people through storytelling, highlighting along the way the resources that are available to guide people in the sector on the issue.

“We were bouncing ideas around, looking at different ways of communicating with the wider water industry and opening a dialogue between the mainly non-indigenous water industry and the Aboriginal community more generally. One of our team members (Loui) actually started a podcast earlier this year that focuses on first nations people, issues and content, and we suddenly realised that this would be the perfect platform to open the dialogue.

“We also learned through the project to view the issue of bushfire recovery more holistically, so the podcast series extends beyond waterway recovery, into broader issues associated with fire recovery, fire prevention and working together when it comes to land and water management.”

“Ultimately, we decided to go with a podcast because it’s a way of helping people to go on the same journey that we’ve gone on. It’s a medium that enables different people’s views to be shared and listened to. It allows people to walk together for a while.”

A 3-part podcast series will be released in November 2020.

Loui (Kelly Hansen), a proud Gunggari woman from West Queensland’s Maranoa region, is the creator and host of Deadly Podcasts, a First Nations led podcast that promotes a safe and supportive storytelling platform. She aims to empower, inspire and motivate people to reach their full potential and was a key mentor in the ‘Welcome to Country’ hackathon team.

Loui and her guests can be discovered on Instagram and Deadly Podcasts.