Right-way science prize

Photo: Kristian Bell

An award will be presented to the best speaker(s) (15 minute talk) demonstrating ‘right-way’ science at the ESA Conference each year, thanks to a new prize being supported by Bush Heritage Australia.

The award will consist of a certificate and cheque for $5000. The money needs to go towards further ‘right-way’ science project support for example travel, training, field equipment and a report of how the money was spent provided to ESA (and Bush Heritage Australia).

The 2019 Bush Heritage Australia ‘Right Way’ Science Prize was awarded to the Yugul Mangi Rangers. You can learn more about their work here.

What is ‘right-way’ science?

‘Right-way’ science recognises the sovereignty, connection and knowledge of Traditional Owners across the country.

‘Right-way’ science is an approach to the practice of science that is based on respect, sharing knowledge, listening and learning. It brings together different frameworks for thinking for the benefit of people and country.

A good way to define ‘right-way’ science is through the Western Desert principle of ngaparrtji ngaparrtji (pronounced nap-art-jee nap-art-jee) meaning ‘give and take’, ‘in return’ or ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’. For Martu, ngaparrtji ngaparrtji science is an exchange of knowledge and a chance to learn based on mutual respect, responsibility and connectedness. It is a collaborative approach based on recognition of the value that each group brings to a project and when all groups have a shared interest in the outcomes.

‘Right-way’ is a familiar term across many Indigenous communities applied in many different situations. For example, ‘right-way fire’ is an accepted term that relates to fire management that respects sacred sites, stories, cultural protocols and different types of country.

Use of the term ‘right-way’ science is not meant to imply there is a wrong way, it is meant to bring people together using language that is well understood by Aboriginal partners. Other terms used include ‘cross-cultural’ science and ‘two-way’ science. The name doesn’t matter too much, it is the set of principles that is supported by the Ecological Society of Australia and Bush Heritage Australia.

Award eligibility criteria

In order to be considered for the award, the speaker(s) must:

  • Select the tick box when registering for the ESA Conference to indicate you will be reporting on a ‘right-way’ science project and want to be considered for the award. If you have already registered for the Conference you can still login and update your details.
  • Participate in the conference and give a 15-minute oral presentation.
  • Present on a project that demonstrates best-practice ‘right-way’ science.

The winning presentation will be identified using a similar process to the student prize. A number of conference delegates appointed by the ESA Indigenous Working Group will listen to the presentations of eligible speakers and rank them based on a set of criteria.