The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Attention to four key principles can promote health outcomes from desert Aboriginal land management

Jocelyn Davies A H , David Campbell B , Matthew Campbell C , Josie Douglas A D , Hannah Hueneke A , Michael LaFlamme A , Diane Pearson E , Karissa Preuss F G , Jane Walker D G and Fiona Walsh A

A CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, PO Box 2111, Alice Springs, NT 0871, Australia.

B Centre for Remote Health, PO Box 4066, Alice Springs, NT 0871, Australia.

C Remotelink, Office of Remote Services, Alice Springs Campus, Charles Darwin University, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia.

D The Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.

E School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of Engineering, Health, Science and Environment, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.

F Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

G Central Land Council, North Stuart Highway, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia.

H Corresponding author. Email: jocelyn.davies@csiro.au

The Rangeland Journal 33(4) 417-431 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ11031
Submitted: 13 May 2011  Accepted: 14 October 2011   Published: 29 November 2011

Abstract

We identify four principles that can promote the prospects of health outcomes for desert Aboriginal people from livelihoods engaged with land management. The principles were derived inductively using a grounded theory approach, drawing on primary research that used qualitative and participatory methods, and from relevant literature and theoretical frameworks. International and Australian literature offers evidence that supports desert Aboriginal people’s view that their health depends on their relationship with their land. Engagement with land management can lead desert Aboriginal people to feel that their own actions are consistent with their own sense of the right and proper way for them to behave towards land, family and community. This increased ‘sense of control’ impacts positively on health by moderating the impact of sustained stress from health risk factors in the environment and lifestyle. The four principles focus on underlying characteristics of Aboriginal land management that are important to promoting this increased ‘sense of control’: (1) Aboriginal land management governance recognises and respects Aboriginal custom and tradition, and is adaptive; (2) learning is embraced as a life-long process; (3) relationships are recognised as very important; and (4) partnerships give priority to doing things that all parties agree are important. These principles are presented as hypotheses that warrant further development and testing. While they do not account specifically for the impact of lifestyle and environmental factors on health, we expect that the increased sense of control that desert Aboriginal people are likely to develop when involved in Aboriginal land management that applies these principles will moderate the impact of such factors on their health. The principles offer a starting point for further development of criteria and standards for good practice in Aboriginal land management, potentially including an environmental certification scheme that integrates social and environmental outcomes.

Additional keywords: community-based conservation, environmental certification, Indigenous development, natural resource management, scoping economies.


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