The Aboriginal Reality - Bridging the gap between blackfella and white fella dreaming about sustainability – University of Copenhagen

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The Aboriginal Reality - Bridging the gap between blackfella and white fella dreaming about sustainability

Sustainability Science Centre is proud to present a sustainability lecture on 6 December 2018, with Bevyline Sithole, Founder, Aboriginal Research Practitioners Network (ARPNet) and Adjunct Fellow at the Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Australia.

Aboriginal policy is a highly contested and complex terrain overlain with historical baggage, misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the reality of the Aboriginal lived experience. Does the term sustainability mean anything to an Aboriginal person in Northern Australia where there are real fears of a disappearance of a culture, a people and a way of life? While Aboriginal people continue to claim the badge of sustainability for a lifestyle that has been handed down from generation to generation, the reality of their present challenges their claim. Is this still sustainable in the present? A suit of government policies focusing on ‘aboriginal futures’, on ‘closing the gap’ or ‘reducing Aboriginal disadvantage’ have been critiqued for failing to deliver real change on the ground. Aboriginal people argue that they have yet to see real change and that in fact the government is itself a ‘hazard’ to the pursuit of Aboriginal futures. There is thus a real gap between Aboriginal dreaming of a sustainable future vis a vis government or what they term Balanda dreaming of the same. I use a series of conservations and interactions with elders and traditional land owners in Arnhem land in the Top end of the Northern Territory to question the conception and understanding of sustainability, sustainable outcomes and ultimately aboriginal futures. I draw on my work running the Aboriginal Research Practitioner’s Network (ARPNet) working on research and evaluations of government programs in the Northern Territory. 

Meaning of Terminology in title:
Black fella dreaming (Aboriginal or indigenous people’s or countryman’s way of thinking or seeing things)
Whitefella or Balanda dreaming (Government or outsiders or white people’s way of thinking or seeing things)

Bevyline Sithole is a participatory grassroots practitioner and social scientist working with remote Aboriginal communities in the Top End of Australia. She is also the founder of the Aboriginal Research Practitioner’s Network (ARPNet) which is a network of community based Aboriginal people that have been trained to conduct participatory research, evaluation and planning.  She is on the expert Participatory Panel set up by the Australian Government in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and has been working with remote Aboriginal communities over the last 15 years. Her adopted name among the Yolngu people is Ngaritjan.  Currently, Bevyline is an Adjunct fellow at the Research Institute For Environment and Livelihoods (Charles Darwin University)  and is currently working on a research project focusing on resilience among remote Aboriginal communities.

Katherine Richardson, Professor in Oceanology, Leader of the Sustainablity Science Centre, will moderate the talk.

Regstration is necesseary. Admission is free.