Indigenous peoples’ livelihoods and emerging bush produce industries: recent experiences from Australia’s arid zone

Indigenous peoples’ livelihoods and emerging bush produce industries: recent experiences from Australia’s arid zone Thesis

School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy

  • Author(s): White, J
  • Published: 2012
  • Publisher: University of South Australia
  • Volume: PhD

Abstract: This thesis details the experiences of Aboriginal people involved in a variety of bush produce industries in Australia’s arid zone, focusing on effects to their livelihoods and well-being, and assessing ways in which benefits can be maximised, and risks minimised to ensure the development of a socio-culturally fair and equitable industry. It is centred on four case studies in central and southern Australia, where Aboriginal people are engaged in a range of activities and enterprises involving use of native plant produce for bush foods, medicines, and seeded jewellery. The overall process and methodology were informed by a Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) to development, with the central hypothesis of the thesis being that a rights-based SLA is needed to enhance the development of a socially just, environmentally and culturally sustainable, and equitable, bush produce industry for the Aboriginal people in Australia's arid lands. This PhD research concurs with previous research showing the primary incentives for Aboriginal people’s involvement in such industries are socio-cultural, rather than purely economic. Bush produce enterprises are based on a knowledge economy and the marketing of cultural heritage. Traditional Ecological Knowledge/Indigenous Knowledge (TEK/IK) is the basis of such enterprises and is fundamental to sustainable Aboriginal involvement and livelihood benefits (UNESCO, 1995). Producers have cultural rights and responsibilities that need to be respected and protected, and they require information in order to be able to make informed decisions about enterprise involvement and development. In this sense, culture is an asset which can significantly strengthen livelihood sustainability and there is a corresponding need to build Aboriginal people’s capacity and performance in these industries through a focus on culture, capability, commitment, and connections (Hagan, 2005; Sen, 1997; Nussbaum, 2000, 2011). Through the lens of the case studies and the diverse experiences of the research participants, the thesis identifies a number of key factors that need to be considered in the development of an Arid Zone bush produce industry that is socio-culturally just and beneficial to local Aboriginal livelihoods and well-being. These factors range from ensuring local engagement and agency in knowledge protection and management, through to the need for an innovative national policy approach recognising that diverse culture-based hybrid economies are the “real” economy in remote Australia (Altman, 2003, 2009; Altman, Buchanan and Biddle, 2006; Martin, 2006; Hunt, 2011). Additionally, an argument is made for aligning industry development with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP, 2007).

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Suggested Citation
White, J, 2012, Indigenous peoples’ livelihoods and emerging bush produce industries: recent experiences from Australia’s arid zone, Volume:PhD, Thesis, viewed 19 May 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=4995.

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