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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are the first people of Australia. We are committed to respecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s enduring connection to the lands, skies, waters, plants and animals. We’re working with Indigenous communities and organisations to create Indigenous-driven science solutions that support sustainable futures for Indigenous peoples, cultures and Country.

We view our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as a two-way learning experience. By working together and blending Western and Indigenous science we are driving innovation and creating an immense knowledge system that can be used to directly benefit Indigenous Australians.

This can be through:

  • Indigenous job creation, income and training
    protection of Indigenous culture
    opportunities to heal country
    growing connections and driving reconciliation.

CSIRO’s Indigenous Science and Engagement Program

We are working to create a science landscape in respectful partnership with Indigenous Australia delivering innovative, sustainable, holistic solutions to meet our greatest national challenges.

To achieve this vision, we are enabling:

  • respectful partnerships
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lead CSIRO research
    • Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property is protected
    • CSIRO research includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their perspectives
  • innovative solutions
    • international Indigenous research partnerships with CSIRO
  • sustainable solutions
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scientists
    • CSIRO capability enabled with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff
  • holistic solutions
    • procurement with Indigenous enterprises
  • national challenges to be addressed
    • support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to benefit from the Indigenous Estate
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities initiate and co-design projects.

Protecting Indigenous knowledge

Protecting Indigenous intellectual property is a vital part of working with Indigenous businesses. We understand that IP is usually based on written records as ‘proof’ but that Indigenous knowledge may not be recorded and instead passed down through generations verbally or though song and dance.

We recognise the value of their knowledge and their right to control what it’s used for, where normal patent systems don’t do this. We build specific clauses into contracts to ensure the Indigenous knowledge that comes to us is protected, and remains under control of the people who shared it with us.

Indigenous-led commercialisation of traditional medicines

Indigenous organisations are approaching CSIRO scientists to help support the commercialisation of traditional medicine plants. We can help develop processes to take raw plant material through to refined extracts/oils, measure their medicinal properties and then formulate them into products.

By walking this journey together, and respectfully blending our approaches to developing medicines, we can create innovative new products. Our Indigenous partners retain control over this process, and can use the knowledge that is created to derive benefit for their communities.

Indigenous knowledge and western knowledge work together ©  Maddie Fulton

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