Indigenous Engagement

One of ESA's strategic goals is to create a better link with Indigenous people working in ecology and land management.

Photo: Kristian Bell

Over the last few years we have helped deliver a better connection through hosting symposia at our annual conference, producing a special issue in our Ecological Management & Restoration journal, and seeking sponsorship for Indigenous ecologists to participate in our conference. See more on these below.

Find out more about our Indigenous Engagement Working Group here.

Convened by: Gerry Turpin, Australian Tropical Herbarium

As part of the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) conference, the ESA annual Indigenous Symposium will showcase Indigenous peoples biocultural knowledge research and projects. This initiative is part of the ESAs ongoing commitment to increase Indigenous participation in ESA activities.

The ESA is inviting Australian Indigenous people to present in this symposium. This provides an opportunity for Indigenous peoples to share and hear stories to build: relationships with each other and with non-Indigenous ecologists; recognition of our diverse knowledge and shared interests, values and practices in caring for and understanding country.

Decisions on presentations for the Indigenous Symposia will be based on:

  • Strength of application (i.e. why you should be chosen)
  • Your ability to tell a good story about your ideas and/work
  • Your ability to demonstrate why your work is important
  • Meeting the word count and format requirements

About Gerry Turpin
Gerry Turpin is an Ethnobotanist with the Tropical Indigenous Ethnobotany Centre (TIEC) at the Australian Tropical Herbarium in Cairns. A Mbabaram Elder and Australia’s first Indigenous Ethnobotanist, Mr Turpin is committed to Indigenous ecological knowledge and its use in collaboration with western science for environmental management.

A limited number of Travel Grants of up to $1000 are available to assist with travel and accommodation for Indigenous presenters in the IEK Symposium.

The Ecological Society of Australia is able to offer some eligible applicants who would like to contribute to the Indigenous Ecological Knowledge symposium or to speak in other symposia or themed sessions of the conference, a Grant to assist with the costs of attending the ESA conference.

Applications are particularly encouraged from people who have limited or no institutional support to enable them to attend conferences. The grant will cover the full conference registration plus $1000 which can be used towards travel or accommodation.  Joint papers involving two or more Indigenous speakers may apply for funding for up to two people.

To be eligible for the Indigenous Travel Grant you must:

1.  Be an Indigenous Australian living in Australia
2.  Present in the “Indigenous Ecological Knowledge” symposium OR in another symposium or open sessions of the conference.
3.  Submit the Indigenous Travel Grant application form and a presentation abstract.

If you need assistance with your application or would like more information please contact Gail Spina (

Please note:
As there are limited funds available for the Travel Grants, applications will be assessed on the quality of applications and abstracts. All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application.

‘Right-way’ science is recognised at the ESA Conference each year, with presenters speaking on ‘right-way’ science eligible for a $5,000 prize, supported by Bush Heritage Australia.

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

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).

To be considered for the award you need to tick the box when you register for the ESA Conference (or log in and update your details if you’ve already registered).

Find out more.

An outcome from the 2010 conference symposium ‘Combining Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge for land management solutions’ was the subsequent production of a special issue of the Ecological Management & Restoration journal titled Indigenous land and sea management in remote Australia (Guest Edited by Dr Emilie Ens).

Download abstracts and articles from this special edition of Ecological Management and Restoration