New technology to keep old ways alive

LEARNING the ways of wise elders and preserving the Fraser Coast’s heritage has been the focus of a community workshop held in Hervey Bay this week.

Fifteen indigenous people have been taking part in the Indigenous Knowledge Recording Workshop project at the Hervey Bay Sports and Leisure Centre.

Traditional owner of the region Mal Collinge hopes by teaching people how to use digital media it will encourage them to record elders’ knowledge of the land.

Mr Collinge is optimistic such data will then be used by government departments and environment groups across the country.

“There is high value in doing something like this. With our people there was no written language; it was all oral, so a lot of knowledge has been lost.

“Not only is it important to traditional owners, really, it’s important for preserving Australia’s history.”

Mr Collinge, a member of the Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management, said the recordings would focus on what plants and animals used to be prevalent in the area.

Flora and Fauna International Australia’s Jody Gunn said the workshop was about looking at indigenous ecological knowledge, including wildlife and land management practices.

She said the week would provide participants with the skills and training needed to use digital equipment to record their history.

“If elders pass and knowledge passes with them, it’s lost forever,” a passionate Ms Gunn said.

“Something like this is a really great opportunity.”

The workshop is part of a wider joint initiative of BMRG, Flora and Fauna International Australia and the Qantas Foundation.

Qantas contributed $100,000 to the project which will also include one-on-one recording sessions with indigenous people, starting next week and running until the end of February.

There will also be a natural resource management business forum, most likely held in March, which will look at ways of increasing the participation of indigenous people in communities. On top of that, Ms Gunn said, a conservation strategy would be developed, working in with the UNESCO-listed Great Sandy Biosphere, declared last May and taking in Maryborough, Hervey Bay, Fraser Island and Gympie.

The funding for this week’s workshop came to about $15,000, Ms Gunn said.

‘If elders pass and knowledge passes with them, it’s lost forever’

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