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Collaborating Indigenous and non-Indigenous voices in the State of Environment Report 2021

The State of the Environment Report 2021 was co-authored by Indigenous and non-Indigenous experts, creating a report that combined knowledge of the oldest living environmental management systems in the world, and Western science. The report included Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors who worked together over more than 2 years.

To guide the work of the team, the authors developed the 2021 State of Environment Report Collaboration Guidelines for Indigenous Co-Authorship. These guidelines provided a strong foundation for Indigenous inclusion in the Australian State of the Environment report 2021 (SoE).

The ten True Tracks® Principles developed by Solicitor Director Dr Terri Janke, and co-chief author of the SoE, were adopted as Co-Authorship principles. There were also 11 Co-authorship guidelines which included that authors recognise that Indigenous knowledge is oral and performance based and constantly evolving. This knowledge may not be the same Western science evidence base. Where a principle in Western science is included, authors should look to compliment the principle from an Indigenous perspective. Another guideline was that Indigenous knowledge should be incorporated and represented in a form that best reflects is nature and cultural context. This may involve knowledge in the form of case studies, imagery, stories and practices.

The majority of the Report’s themes were co-written between Indigenous authors and non-Indigenous authors. Further, Indigenous voices from a national consultation process feature prominently in the report. The report highlighted the importance of Caring for Country and the wholistic and deep connection that Indigenous people have to land and waters. Another key difference was the link between Country, the environment and well-being. The report also included Indigenous art and language. The guidelines were a useful way to approach the writing of this historical report. It is hoped that the collaboration model will continue for future reports.

View the Collaboration Guidelines for Indigenous Co-Authorship on our Resources page or click here.

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