Applying the Malparara Model to explicate geographic markers within women’s bodies, Patjarr Community, far eastern Western Australia

Ms Jan Turner1, Miss Daisy Tjuparntari Ward2,3

1Murdoch University, Perth, Australia,

2Ngaanyatjarra Lands School, Ngaanyatjarra Lands, Australia,

3Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council, Alice Springs, Australia


For two weeks in 2014 the Federal Court heard evidence at a claypan called Mina Mina in the Gibson Desert from persons many of whom had experienced their first sustained contact with white Australians in the mid 1960s. For the Yarnangu [Aboriginal] people the claypan and nearby community was inhabited by a teeming spiritual world, “the country was alive” and palpably so. The antics of the spirits were discussed openly, yet were poorly realised or appreciated by the lawyers, anthropologists, court staff and those brought in to assist with logistics. The divide between the knowledgeable and the ignorant could not have been greater. Turner and Ward having experienced this divide are utilising a specific methodology, to reveal the invisible.

The Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council of Central Australia pioneered a way of working cross-culturally known as the Malparara Model. This paper looks at the concepts behind malparara, the pairing of a locally endorsed, experienced Indigenous researcher with a non-local professionally qualified practitioner or cultural researcher. It reports on how this model has been adapted and utilised by the speakers to reveal essential cultural knowledge with implications for improving Two Way Learning in education, health and native title services.


Tjuparntari and Jan have shared for thirty years an inter-cultural space, as tjurturarra [a two sister team]. Born in the same year, cultures apart, we have grown together learning much about our own and each other’s cultures. We have watched our families grow, travelled remote country, made films, presented materials for court cases. A woman of desert culture, an artist, a cross-cultural educator  and a research colleague who share both a sense of fun and sharp inquiry, prioritising the sensory when representing complex and often abstract concepts from a non-literate desert culture to mainstream Australia.

Emu oil and Emu Dreaming: More-than-human geographies/natures and colonial biopiracy

A/Prof. Daniel Robinson1, Dr Margaret Raven1, Dr John Hunter2

1UNSW, Sydney, Australia,

2Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia


The Emu is one of the world’s largest flightless birds, endemic to Australia. It is an iconic species featuring in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island People’s Dreamings, a major feature of Aboriginal Astronomy, a totemic species for some Indigenous Australian peoples and families, one of the two animals on the Australian Coat of Arms, and features on Australian currency. Yet there has been no critical discussion of the appropriation, commodification and patenting of emu oil products to date. This article seeks to firstly utilise the more-than-human geographies literature through an examination of the significance of emus, and then a critical analysis of the production and patenting of oil from emus (emu oil). Secondly the article provides insight to legal geographies of animals in light of the patentability of life forms, the international legal regime on ‘access and benefit-sharing’ (ABS) under the Nagoya Protocol, and other relevant legal considerations such as Indigenous customary law. Last, the article argues for a decolonization of the discourse around ‘traditional knowledge’ and suggests ‘Indigenous innovations’ as an alternative in the emu oil case and others.


A/Prof Robinson is the project lead and CI of and ARC DP on Indigenous Knowledge Futures with co-CI Dr Margaret Raven. He is the project manager for the GIZ-led, EU funded multi-donor Access and Benefit Sharing Capacity Development Initiative (ABS Initiative), the Academic Co-Lead for the Pacific, for UNSW Institute for Global Development, and has been a researcher and policy adviser to multiple governments in the Asia-Pacific, UN agencies and INGOs.


Indigenous communities in disaster resilience: Lessons from Newar communities in Nepal’s earthquake recovery

Ms Ayusha Bajracharya1, Mr Krishna  Shrestha1, Ms Eileen  Baldry1, Mr Anthony Zwi1

1University of New South Wales, Kensington, Australia


Disasters such as earthquakes have become frequent and building community resilience is now a pressing issue.  The current approach of ‘building back better’ is elusive as disaster policies and practices are usually driven by scientific knowledge, with little attention given to indigenous knowledge and resilience building practices.  The paper shares a framework of research that aims to examine how indigenous communities experience and manage disaster recovery practices, focusing on the practices of indigenous women in the aftermath of Nepal’s earthquakes in 2015.  Drawing on some literature review and preliminary reflections of two visits of two Newar communities in Kathmandu affected by the earthquakes, the paper highlights three major issues: a) the global and national disaster management frameworks and policies have failed to recognise indigenous communities and knowledge, b) indigenous women’s experiences and struggles are largely ignored in the disaster recovery programs; and c) Shared Learning Dialogues (SLDs) seems to be more appropriate research method to learn from indigenous communities.  The paper concludes by highlighting the need for an engaged research to recognise indigenous knowledge as central so that deeper insights are obtained for inclusive disaster resilience.


Ayusha Bajracharya is a Scientia PhD Scholar in the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney, Australia.  Her research interest includes critical development studies, disaster governance, and indigenous communities.

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