Uniting science with Indigenous knowledges to ‘Heal Country’

30 July 2021

University of Queensland doctoral student Hannah Allan would like to help unite contemporary science with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural understanding and traditional knowledges, for effective and holistic management of Country.

Hannah Allan believes everyone has a responsibility to look after Country.

The proud Boorooberongal woman of Darug Nation is undertaking a PhD in the field of coral reef ecology and was commenting in the lead-up to UQ’s NAIDOC Festival.

“I have always been passionate about conservation and strongly believe everyone has a responsibility to look after the Country that they are on, so I was excited when 2021’s NAIDOC theme was announced as Heal Country,” Hannah says.

“Healing Country requires better protection of our environment and sacred sites, empowering communities to manage Country, embracing traditional knowledge systems, and acknowledging and rectifying historical injustices caused by dispossession.

“There is much to do, but when I think about the role I can play in Healing Country, I would like to help unite contemporary science and traditional knowledges for effective and holistic management of Country, while advocating for Indigenous engagement and leadership.

“NAIDOC week is a time to celebrate Indigenous excellence and cultures, educate ourselves and others, listen to truth-telling, and start some critical conversations. But in my opinion, this should be happening year-round.

“Although COVID restrictions stopped me from returning to my Country this NAIDOC week, I was still able to register for some great virtual events and look forward to the UQ NAIDOC festival – particularly hearing some deadly music and hopefully joining a weaving workshop.

Hannah Allan has always been passionate about conservation.

“The festival has something for everyone, and I hope the UQ community takes the opportunity to experience and celebrate First Nations’ cultures, while learning about our shared history.”

Hannah says she is extremely grateful to be a recipient of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Training Program scholarship from UQ, as well as a top-up scholarship from CSIRO.

“When I started studying in January, I was excited to hear about and join the Goorie Berrimpa student group.

“Both Goorie and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (ATSIS) Unit – which is filled with amazingly kind and helpful staff – are wonderfully supportive and motivating spaces.

“Inspired by this, fellow PhD candidate Coen Hird and I recently started a student group within the School of Biological Systems – BIOL Mob – to strengthen the sense of community and representation of First Nations in science.”