Intergenerational Transfer of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge Program

Nikki Brannigan: Program Manager/Assistant Evaluator
Natalie Moxham: Facilitator, Designer and Evaluator
Intergenerational Transfer of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge Program 2008 – 2010
Central Land Council, Alice Springs.

Indigenous Ecological Knowledge (IEK), the dynamic systems of knowledge and practice relating to the natural environment has become widely recognised as highly relevant to contemporary Natural Resource Management. Most significantly these knowledge systems and practices are highly valued by the knowledge holders themselves who have consistently voiced concerns regarding the threats to the maintenance and intergenerational transmission of these complex cultural knowledge systems. In response to these issues and as a result of a consistent and effective advocacy and policy input from the Central Land Council (CLC), with the support of Territory Natural Resource Management Board, the Federal Government invested a total of $2.8 million for a range of pilot programs including $1 million for an Intergenerational Transfer of Ecological Knowledge program. Nikki Brannigan was engaged by the CLC to manage the implementation of this complex and highly anticipated program. Early on, and in recognition of, the wide interest in the processes of transmission and application of IEK Nikki Brannigan engaged Natalie Moxham to assist in facilitation of the design of the program with key stakeholders. This lead to Nikki and Natalie developing the monitoring, reporting and evaluation and improvement (MERI) framework in order to provide and communicate evidence of outcomes and learning’s to stakeholders ranging from grassroots community to high-level policy makers.

This participatory design process, undertaken early, provided opportunity for key stakeholders to come together and map and articulate their interests through this program. This participatory approach proved highly effective in profiling and communicating the opportunities arising from engaging with the IEK program and most significantly identifying and activating networks and partnerships across sectors: an often difficult task in a busy and complex environment where people and organisations often operate in silos severely limiting opportunity for collaborative practice which results in rich and dynamic responses to issues which cut across sectors. The products from this process; the program logic and the MERI framework became the preliminary tools that grounded and guided program activities and monitoring and evaluation processes. Ultimately, it was the emphasis on participatory processes throughout the program that realised projects which were highly regarded by all stakeholders and which empowered the Aboriginal knowledge holders to become the primary planners and ‘bosses’ of each project. This empowerment approach realised the capacity of Aboriginal people to plan, coordinate, and implement diverse projects while developing appropriate intellectual property protocols and practices to maintain and protect their intellectual property.

At the completion of the program Natalie Moxham and Nikki Brannigan were engaged by the Territory Natural Resource Management Board to undertake a participatory evaluation of the overall outcomes of the IEK program. This need was identified in order to fully capture the strengths and successes of the IEK program in order to broadly communicate the outcomes of this pilot program to the range of stakeholders. The evaluation methodology included a participatory workshop and additional Most Significant Change interviews with participants resulting in a rigour analysis of the overall program outcomes. Additionally, Nikki Brannigan compiled and produced an interactive DVD profiling all 49 projects. These materials represented part of a suite of communication tools which were presented at a number of forums in Alice Springs, Darwin and Canberra. The IEK program, through Nikki Brannigan’s skilled cross-cultural commitment to participatory planning, monitoring and evaluation and communication of results operated as a successful pilot to communicate the program learning’s to all stakeholders from local Aboriginal groups to high level policy decision makers.

Intergenerational Transfer of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge Program Evaluation