Murawin helps shape the Australian
State of the Environment Report 2021
10 August 2022
Combining scientific, traditional, and local knowledge, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people have come together to create the first holistic assessment of the state of Australia’s environment. In July 2022, the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water, released the Australian State of the Environment Report 2021. Led by Dr Ian Cresswell, Dr Terri Janke, Professor Emma Johnston AO FTSE FRSN, and other contributors such as Murawin, the report aims to help shape policy and action, influence behaviours, and assess our actions as stewards of the Australian environment.
Dhawurayina, ngurayina, gawarwarri ngaladji.
Our Country, our Homeland, is always in our hearts.
The State of the Environment report is a 5-yearly requirement under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). To ensure that the report was as robust as possible, the report was written by a panel of independent authors, based on the best available evidence, and quality checked through a rigorous consultation, peer‑review and fact‑checking process.
In preparing the framework for the 2021 State of the Environment report, the former Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, sought to underpin the report by the fundamental understanding that Indigenous participation in management of land and sea is critical to environmental outcomes. With the support of the department’s Indigenous Advisory Committee, a new Indigenous co-authorship approach was adopted to achieve an Indigenous voice in the report.
Along with the three chosen co-chief authors, including two senior scientists and an Indigenous co-chief, the department sought to engage Indigenous co-authors for all the report themes and therefore, for the first time ever, Indigenous authors have written in almost every chapter of this report.
Dr Terri Janke was appointed as the Indigenous co-chief author and she was joined by a stream of other Indigenous authors who co-wrote several chapters which resulted in a profound recognition of Indigenous knowledge and science being articulated throughout the report in the context of Caring for Country and the management of the Australian environment.
The team at Murawin had the privilege of leading the consultation with First Nations people across the country and supporting the Indigenous co-authors with engagement, as well as supporting the contribution of an Indigenous Ecological Peer Review Panel of experts.
Introductory YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/BWNoe5een2g
Ngurawari, gawar dhawurangu wanggiralidjiny, winanganguru nimidjanguru.
In our Homeland our hearts heed the Country, with strength and with health.
The report contains 12 thematic chapters that provide the overall outlook for the Australian environment, pressures, and management, including:
- Air quality
- Extreme events
- Inland water
- Marine, and
1. In a rapidly changing climate, with unsustainable development and use of resources, the general outlook for our environment is deteriorating. Pressures from climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, and resource extraction can add together to increase impacts on the environment.
2. Climate change is affecting every aspect of our environment. Temperatures, extreme events, and fire risk are increasing, sea levels are rising, and rainfall patterns are changing across Australia.
3. Immediate action with innovative management and collaboration can turn things around. By embracing our role as stewards of our land and seas, we can work together to protect our future.
4. Indigenous knowledge and connections to Country are vital for sustainability and healing Australia. Indigenous people have dealt with environmental change for millennia. Traditional knowing and seeing along with the principles of caring for Country are essential for meeting the environmental challenges of today and the future. Working together, we can build resilient Country and people.
5. Environmental decline affects the wellbeing of Australians. Our health, living standards, cultural and spiritual fulfilment, and connection to Country are all linked to our environment.
Image Sources: Murawin Pty Ltd. Key Findings Source: Introduction | Australia state of the environment 2021 (dcceew.gov.au)
Murawin collaborates with the State of the Environment team
Murawin has been collaborating with the State of the Environment team and together, we have combined science, traditional, and local knowledge to assess the health of our environment.
In 2021, the Murawin team travelled across Australia listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tell their stories of Country and the role that Traditional Knowledge Systems have played in maintaining environmental and ecological balance. What a privilege this was.
Our team had the rare opportunity of sitting within communities, we stood on the red dirt, we sat by the ocean and in boardrooms, where we laughed and cried with mob as they told stories of their Country and the devastation that has and is continually being caused from development, climate change and the inability of those in authority to listen to their wisdom about how to Care for Country.
Murawin’s CEO, Carol Vale said, “It’s vital that we understand the impact that human pressures are having on Country, so we can protect and manage our environment and Country, into the future”.
Indigenous people have cared for Country for tens of thousands of years. With decreasing health of Country, Indigenous people continue to seek a larger role in managing its recovery back to health. Indigenous people seek greater participation in Australia’s environmental management system. Respectful use of Indigenous knowledge, recognition of Indigenous knowledge rights, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge systems working together will lead to positive change.
For the first time The State of the Environment Report has Indigenous authors and the voice of Indigenous Australians weaved throughout. It places a renewed emphasis on engagement across all sectors of society and is required to reverse environmental decline, to achieve ecologically sustainable development that underpins future prosperity and the wellbeing of future generations. At last, we are seeing a renewed focus on restoration of the landscape, and greater recognition and empowerment of Indigenous land management practices.
Carol said, “Prior to undertaking this project with the State of the Environment team, we were aware of the impacts happening on Country, but now we are even more acutely conscious of it. If we care for Country, Country will care for us, but Australia’s environment is under extreme pressure, and I encourage all within our professional and personal networks to read the report. Do your part in healing Country because our future wellbeing and prosperity depends on it.”
To read the full report, visit Introduction | Australia state of the environment 2021 (dcceew.gov.au), or to learn more about Murawin’s research and evaluation services, visit Research and Evaluation | Murawin Pty Ltd.