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Building cultural connections across the continent.

Earlier this year five Kimberley women Pat Riley, Janice Butt, Kanawaka (Olive) Knight, Emily Poelina-Hunter and Anne Poelina traveled to Lutruwita (Tasmania) for a cross cultural exchange involving sharing ‘water and water stories’.

The Project was supported by the Australian Academy of Science and the Theo Murphy Initiative (Australia), under the leadership of Dr Saideepa Kumar and Dr Jennifer Evans from the University of Tasmania (Launceston).

This journey across living waters exchanged stories of lived experiences between Aboriginal women of Lutruwita (Tasmania) and Martuwarra (West Kimberley). Time was spent sharing and learning through cultural exchange of ceremony, dance, and learning to weave stories and basket making. The time on Country was followed by a symposium open to all women working in or interested in the health of our waterways and sea country. This cultural exchange between Martuwarra and Lutruwita women was a sharing to explore ways for including diverse ways of creating knowledge, especially giving attention to Aboriginal women’s ways of knowing, sharing and collaborating. Martuwarra women presented on a panel followed by a panel of Palawa/Pakana women are actively involved in shaping and organizing the program. The presentations and workshops at the symposium will showcase diverse ways of knowing and caring for our waterways.

The cultural exchanged established relationships between women researchers from transdisciplinary backgrounds and different cultural perspectives to learn about and develop different approaches. The cultural exchange and symposium included presentations, performances and workshops led by women working in a range of roles related to freshwater and sea country. Women came from a range of backgrounds and included rangers, community members involved in programs, artists, academics, staff from all the main state water agencies and Natural Resource Management organisations and environmental consultants. The workshops at the symposium were designed to be yarning sessions with cultural activities led by Pakana women, working with cultural resources from country. The program also includes films, music and talks about the values of waterways, practical outcomes being achieved and proposals for new ways to engage communities.

Dr Magali McDuffie attended and was commissioned to produce a series of films showcasing the project as being very positive with the establishment of new networks and collaborations between local cultural experts and practitioners within water sector working in different contexts.  We are sharing some of the films here as we wait for the final film by Dr McDuffie.

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