Indigenous Sustainability Practices and Processes

Collection of fruit and seeds eaten by the Yirrganydji people from the rainforests of Queensland, Australia. Image via Shutterstock.
Wednesday 30 May 2018
5.00 - 6.30pm

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General Lecture Theatre Room K2.06, The Quadrangle, University of Sydney



Sydney Ideas & The Food Wastage Fighters Society

national reconciliation week event co-presented with the Sydney Ideas in collaboration with the Food Wastage Fighters Society

Our growing demand for food, the disregard for food wastage, and general environmental degradation is exhausting Country, laying it to waste. The food practices of First Australian peoples enabled them to sustain productivity, to nurture country, nurture their bodies, nurture their spirits and culture for 2500 generations (and counting). In the face of these growing challenges, there is a need to include First Nations people and their knowledges of food and Country.

What does it mean to care for Country? How can changes in food production address the historical injustices of colonialism? How can we address our current and future environmental challenges by including First Australian knowledge and experiences of how to care for Country?

For all time, Country has sustained the First Nations people of this continent. The foods of this continent have been nurtured, protected, harvested and prepared and the people, the animals, the fish and birds, the soils and the forests flourished.

Drawing on the insights of David King, Gundungurra Aboriginal elder and inspirational leader of the Bushcare Group community, this Sydney Ideas public seminar, will focus on First Australian sustainability practices and processes, and explore issues of food wastage, food justice and the ethical and environmental challenges of food security.


Keynote Speaker

David King, Gundungurra Aboriginal elder, and member of The Gully Traditional Owners.


Cressida Rigney, PhD Candidate, The University of Sydney
Dr Margaret RavenPostdoctoral Fellow, Macquarie University


Christine Winter, Sydney Environment Institute Phd Candidate from the Department of Government and International Relations.


David King: I’m the son of Aunty Mary King a Gundungurra woman born in the Gully (Garguree) Katoomba. My father was an Englishmen from Yorkshire. I grew up disconnected from my mother’s family but I always had something that drew me to the Blue Mountains from where I lived in the Burramatta area. I moved to the Blue Mountains permanently in 1999 and in 2001 started Bushcare activities and continued Clean Up Australia Activities. From then to now we have seen the restoration of Country and methodologies increase on my home Country – the Gundungurra people.

We have been able to achieve many milestones. I personally have been honoured with Hard Yakka Award, Bushcare Morning Tea Award, Bushcare Legend Award and Blue Mountains NAIDOC person of the year award. The Garguree Swampcare group has been honoured with the Local Land Services Regional Award and then NSW Indigenous Land Management Landcare State Champions last year.

During this time I have been asked to share this story and my story in many places. I was accepted by AILC to do Cert 4 in Indigenous Leadership and was then honoured to share this story and my story at the AILC conference for leaders in Cairns. Being a fella who didn’t focus on school and went missing from the school grounds midway through Year 11 to start work studying successfully was a major milestone for me.I was then encouraged to go to University. I was accepted by IKE Deakin Geelong for Graduate Diploma NCRM (Natural Cultural Resource Management) a few years ago and I managed to complete this with a Distinction and 7 High Distinctions.

My greatest parts of my life are my two daughters Kelsie and Bethany along with being able to place my mother back with her mother after my mother was removed in 1934. They call me Dingo Darbo because Dingoes tend to put up with people but prefer to stay isolated abd Darbi which is black tea in Gundungurra – my Doctor forced me to cut back on this due to major consumption.

Cressida Rigney is a PhD Candidate at The University of Sydney, her interests lie in the developing native food industry, in particular the relationship between consumers (both commercial and domestic) and producers.

Dr Margaret Raven is Postdoctoral Fellow through the Macquarie University Fellowship for Indigenous Researchers at Macquarie University. She previously worked as a Research Fellow at the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC), University of New South Wales, Australia. Dr Raven is a geographer with experience working for a Native Title Representative Body, the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the WA Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Her research interests include Indigenous protocols in research and policy development; the spatial analysis of policies; Indigenous food security; and the role of Indigenous knowledge(s) in biodiversity conservation.

Her current research takes the study of protocols further to explore them in the context of Indigenous food security at the household level, and the implementation of biodiversity conservation. She is undertaking this research through her postdoctoral position at Macquarie University, and as a co-Chief Investigator, along with A/Prof Daniel Robinson (UNSW Australia), on the ARC Discovery Project (DP180100507) Indigenous knowledge futures: protecting and promoting Indigenous knowledge.

Dr Raven is a member of the Australian Research Council College of Experts. She is also a member on Human Research Ethics Committees for Macquarie University, and for the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

Christine Winter is a SEI PhD Candidate from the Department of Government and International Relations, The University of Sydney. Christines PhD research is Christine is looking at how intergenerational obligations and duties are manifest in some Aboriginal, Māori and Amerindian communities and how they can inform a capabilities approach to intergenerational justice to protect the environment for future generations of those peoples, and examines the entanglements of Indigenous Peoples, their compatriots, future generations, nonhuman and the physical environment through the lens of Intergenerational Environmental Justice (IEJ).