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Coorong management embracing Ngarrindjeri Knowledge

The health of the Coorong (Kurangk) and surrounding lands and waters are intrinsically linked to the health of the Ngarrindjeri and First Nations of the South East. To help manage these significant waterways into the future the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation is partnering with the South Australian Department for Environment and Water (DEW).

The Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation has partnered with DEW, Flinders University, Environmental Systems Solutions and Nature Glenelg Trust to lead the development of a Ngarrindjeri Knowledge database. The database is Ngarrindjeri owned and will inform the current and future management of the Coorong.

The Ngarrindjeri Information Management System (database) is a user-friendly, secure, online database that provides Ngarrindjeri with the capacity to record, manage, protect and selectively display Ngarrindjeri cultural and environmental information. The system provides the tools and processes for collecting, mapping, storing, presenting and summarising a variety of information in a systematic and effective way, which will support Ngarrindjeri engagement in environmental research and management projects.

CEO of the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation Tim Hartman said, “having a Ngarrindjeri led and managed research project allows Ngarrindjeri to actively take a leadership role to speak on behalf of Yarluwar Ruwe (Lands and Waters) and the ongoing management of the Coorong.”

“It will strengthen the broader community’s understanding on the significance of Ngarrindjeri cultural values and how a healthy system is a requirement for the wellbeing of the Ngarrindjeri people,” he said.

Building capacity and opportunity for the Ngarrindjeri and First Nations of the South East in relation to land and water management is a key priority of the Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin (HCHB) initiative.

The Department for Environment and Water’s Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin Program Leader, Aboriginal Partnerships Tom Overall said, “the initiative will help provide critical knowledge that will improve ecological outcomes through the respectful application of Ngarrindjeri Knowledge to site decision-making.”

“The Ngarrindjeri people seek increased opportunity to participate and engage in the systematic collection of new knowledge in the system that has been their home and source of food, shelter and spiritual meaning for thousands of years”, he said. “We are working together to establish a culturally appropriate knowledge database that can be used to inform the management of the Kurangk.”

“A better documented understanding of the knowledge and cultural values of the Ngarrindjeri will allow future management interventions focussed on restoring the ecological character of the Coorong to consider these values,” Mr Overall said.

“It will also support the critical partnerships with Ngarrindjeri to protect and promote Ngarrindjeri culture, heritage and unique relationships and responsibilities for their Country.”

The Ngarrindjeri Research Project is part of the South Australian Government’s Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin Program, which is jointly funded by the Australian and South Australian governments.

Visual map of the First Nations Partnerships project (click to view full size)

Featured image: Aerial photograph of The Coorong at the mouth of the River Murray near Goolwa in South Australia (Adobe stock image)
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