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OHCHR | Human Rights Council holds annual panel discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples
This knowledge base has been passed down over thousands of generations to Aboriginal Victorian people and therefore is tested, credible and a reliable source of information on environmental management [ , ]. However, this knowledge is more complex and spiritual, being passed down through creation stories, narratives, sacred names, ceremonies, art and dance. In contrast, biology for Aboriginal Victorians loosely refers to passing down of ancestry through connection to Country.
This is the basis of the biophilia hypothesis, which acknowledges humans have been connected to the land for thousands of generations, causing the brain to be hardwired innately to such bonds [ 89 , , ]. This study [ 83 ] reiterated that this ancestral connection back to Country was automatic and allowed Aboriginal Victorians to feel a sense of belonging, obligation and spiritual connectedness to care for their territories.
The clearest biophilic connection in the study came from a Traditional Custodian, part of the stolen generation, who commented:. Often scholars will associate the built environment with urban places [ , ] but for this paper, this term has to be put in the Aboriginal Victorian context. Missions are considered symbolic of this resilience today; however, historically, missions have had negative connotations associated with discriminatory government policies. Building strong relationships, consultation processes, education and training pathways, reciprocity and respect, and employment opportunities were identified as key to these collaborative partnerships working.
It was noted that if they the relationships and opportunities available to Aboriginal Victorians are not involved in caring for Country programs, they are destined to fail [ , , ].
This is supported in the literature, which identifies collaboration, funding, education, cultural exchange, capacity building, trust and respect are fundamental in fostering Aboriginal land management projects [ , , ]. Kingsley and colleague [ ] and Barra and colleagues [ ] noted that government employees were viewed as having different values and a lack of understanding of Aboriginal community members.
This meant Aboriginal Victorian communities would speak to numerous government departments about similar issues. The lack of understanding of Aboriginal culture has blurred power structures, causing communities and families, at times, to be pitted against each other [ , ]. Lack of recognition and access to Country is considered an injustice for Aboriginal people and has been found to cause health issues [ , ]. Aboriginal Victorian people interviewed wanted recognition of their Traditional Custodian status and knowledge, rather than having non-Indigenous people believing they knew everything about Aboriginal culture and, as a consequence, making them feel marginalised.
Coupled with the destruction of the natural environment over the last years, this means Aboriginal Victorian peoples today need to work harder to reconnect to Country with all these forces at play. This article aimed to provide insight of how Aboriginal Victorian peoples connect to Country, providing a framework for exploring this connection.
This framework aimed to move beyond conventional wellbeing models which are often rigid. This is of importance in the field of ecohealth as, by having an understanding of this holistic approach to contact with Country, we can apply it with other populations to improve collaborative understandings of forces which impact on wellbeing. Kingsley and colleagues [ 83 ] noted that Aboriginal peoples may have a more realistic view to explain their connection to their natural world than Western concepts.
Aboriginal Victorian people identified that this connection goes beyond words and is steeped in spiritual orientation to that locality. Therefore, the rationale for designing a framework was to give greater recognition to this connection so that it can cut across different research fields more effectively. The process of reviewing wellbeing literature and its link to the human-nature relationship was fundamental in gaining an understanding of this meaning.
The framework, its surrounding evidence base and applied model, could be a starting point for future application and debate. At a time where humanity is facing fundamental issues such as dangerous climate change, increased urbanisation and disconnection from the natural environment, the development of such a framework is timely. To effectively tackle such issues, academics, policy makers and communities as a whole must unite around common understandings of these concepts and ideas.
What this process aimed to achieve is to bring together years of research and apply it to develop a framework in order to tackle future environmental and health issues. This allows the moving away from often complex theoretical constructs or static guidelines into a space where this concept can be understood by a wider audience. The researchers would like to thank Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative and John Van Leeuwen for allowing the free reproduction of materials used in this article.
Also, thankyou Ruthie Kingsley for developing the new framework applied in this paper.
National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Published online Feb 7. Find articles by Jonathan Kingsley. Find articles by Mardie Townsend.
Find articles by Claire Henderson-Wilson. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Aboriginal people across Australia suffer significant health inequalities compared with the non-Indigenous population. Keywords: wellbeing, Aboriginal, health, Country, nature. Understanding Human Wellbeing Wellbeing is a complex and hard to measure concept [ 15 , 34 , 35 ]. Country and Wellbeing Indigenous peoples hold a deep connection to their ancestral landscapes being central to their wellness [ 29 , 73 , 74 , 75 , 76 , 77 , 78 ].
Open in a separate window. Figure 1. Figure 2. Figure 3. Figure 4. Conclusions This article aimed to provide insight of how Aboriginal Victorian peoples connect to Country, providing a framework for exploring this connection. Acknowledgements The researchers would like to thank Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative and John Van Leeuwen for allowing the free reproduction of materials used in this article.
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