Officially launched in Canberra today, the Curtin-based Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Healing Country is set to rehabilitate and restore Country by combining Indigenous knowledge and traditional approaches with western science.
The Healing Country Cultural Advisory Council and Board will lead the design of research programs addressing the restoration needs of Country and the eco-health and socioeconomic impacts of an Indigenous-led restoration economy and regional enterprise.
During the five-year program, Healing Country will create new pathways for training and micro-credentials to enable a pipeline of PhD-ready Indigenous students to be equipped for the jobs of the future.
Centre participants will include 19 partner organisations across industry, government and universities, academic leaders and PhD students.
ARC Training Centre for Healing Country Director and noted Australian botanical ecologist Professor Stephen van Leeuwen, from Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, said the centre would pursue excellence and innovation in the fields of biodiversity and environmental science through collaborative networks with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“Following NAIDOC Week, this launch is an opportunity to celebrate Indigenous Australian communities, alongside the increasing numbers of government agencies, universities and industry partners that come together to collaborate on projects and initiatives to improve healthy Country, healthy culture and healthy communities,” Professor van Leeuwen said.
“Healing Country aims to enable restoration activities that enable Indigenous communities to be the ‘go-to’ organisations for technical know-how in building resilient ecosystems and an enduring restoration economy.
“This will be achieved with a focus on the delivery of biodiverse restoration for on-Country capability and enduring economic returns in carbon, native seed supply, restoration services, honey production, conservation and the enhancement of culturally significant species and landscapes.”
Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Lindy Fitzgerald congratulated Professor van Leeuwen, saying it was exciting to see the new centre being officially launched.
“Under the leadership of Professor van Leeuwen – Australia’s first Indigenous Chair for Biodiversity and Environmental Science, the centre will undertake 15 higher degree by research projects that are aligned with restoration science, socioeconomics and eco-health,” Professor Fitzgerald said.
“Another important function of the centre will be connecting Healing Country partner organisations, centre participants, research leaders and academics with Indigenous communities through regular events, workshops and collaborative research activities throughout the program.
“The ARC Training Centre for Healing Country will continue to help develop an economy that helps grow Indigenous land management and restoration businesses into a major employer of on-Country regional jobs, while supporting healthy land.”
The centre was announced as part of the Federal Government’s funding of the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Program (ITRP) to support eight new ARC research hubs and eight new ARC Training Centres to be led by Australian universities and involve significant collaborations with industry.