Incorporating Indigenous Traditional Knowledge in Disaster Management and Sustainable Development

We are currently witnessing unprecedented disruption, at both the international and local level, from factors such as the global Covid-19 pandemic and the 2019/2020 fires across Australia. Under these circumstances, it is essential to raise awareness of the importance of Indigenous traditional knowledge, which can play a pivotal role in disaster management, risk reduction, community reconstruction and resilience building. The workshop will critically analyse the importance of incorporating Indigenous knowledge in disaster management, an essential aspect of intangible heritage, into contemporary community sustainable development practices.

This workshop will collaborate between the ANU – (CASS, CAEPR, CAP); UNSW; the National Museum of Australia (NMA); Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation; and the Buru Ngunawal Aboriginal Corporation. It is part of the ANU Course HUMN835 Critical Issues of Intangible Heritage.

Agenda - Chair and Panel Moderator: Yujie Zhu; co-organisers Nicola van Dijk and Meredith Wilson




10 – 10.10am

Wally Bell (Buru Ngunawal Aboriginal Corporation)

Welcome to Country

10.10 - 10.15

Yujie Zhu  (ANU)

Introduction to the workshop

10.15 – 10.20

Jilda Andrews (recorded) (Yuwaalaraay, ANU)

Launch and thematic overview

10.20 - 10.30

Lucas Lixinski (UNSW)

International context: The Intangible Heritage Convention and Disaster Adaptation: Change as Part of Heritage

10.30 - 10.40

Christopher Ballard (ANU)

International context: The Relationship between ICH and Disasters

10.40 - 10.50

Bill Gammage (ANU)

National Context: Landscape Fire

11.00 - 11.25

Questions from the students to the speakers

Break and morning tea

11.40 - 12.00

Moderated Roundtable with Bill Gammage, Lucas Lixinski, Christopher Ballard and Meredith Wilson.

12.00 - 12.10

Questions from the floor

12.10 - 12.15

Closing remarks (Moderator)


Themed tour of the National Museum of Australia with Martha Sear.


Jilda Andrews - Research Fellow, The Australian National University/National Museum of Australia. Jilda is a Yuwaalaraay woman, cultural practitioner and researcher based in Canberra at the Australian National University and the National Museum of Australia.

Chris Ballard – A/Professor, Senior Fellow, School of Culture, History & Language. Chris is based at the Australian National University and is involved in projects in the Pacific region and in collaboration with UNESCO on Intangible Cultural Heritage and climate change/disasters.

Wally Bell - Chair/Cultural Heritage Officer Buru Ngunawal Aboriginal Corporation. Wally does consultation/participation in management/protection of Ngunawal Aboriginal cultural heritage. He cares for country as a traditional custodian maintaining Aboriginal sites of significance and participating in landcare conservation and management on country.

Geoff Cary - Professor, Bushfire Science, Fenner School of Environment and Society. Geoff’s research interests include: landscape-scale simulation of fire management and  climate change effects on fire regimes; fire ecology from genes to communities; house loss in wildland fire; and laboratory experimentation of fire behaviour.

Bill Gammage - Emeritus Professor, College of Arts and Social Sciences, ANU.  BilI is an Australian academic historian, Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University.  He has written extensively on Indigenous fire and land management in Australia.

Lucas Lixinski - Professor at the Faculty of Law and Justice, UNSW Sydney. He researches and teaches primarily international cultural heritage law and international human rights law. He co-edited the commentary to UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention (Oxford University Press).

Meredith Wilson: Primary lecturer HUMN8035 (Issues in Intangible Cultural Heritage) 2022. Meredith is an archaeologist and cultural heritage consultant who has engaged with various aspects of UNESCO’s 2003 Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Convention, including the relationships between ICH and disasters, and ICH and gender.

Yujie Zhu Senior Lecturer, ANU Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies, ANU.  Yujie specialises in teaching World Heritage and Intangible Cultural Heritage and is interested in the cultural politics of the production and consumption of heritage through tourism and museum spaces.


Workshop Feedback

  1. Today's workshop helps me understand the broader issue of Indigenous Knowledge in disaster management from both national and international perspectives...I learned a lot from speakers and they will help me develop my research projects.

  2. It strikes me that we need to pay more attention to the value of traditional Indigenous Knowledge...It makes me feel that I would love to know more about ICH.

  3. Today's introduction and Welcome to the country was really powerful.

  4. I learned a lot today about the role of culture and heritage in disaster conceptualisation, management and resilience building.

  5. I would like to attend similar workshop in the future.

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Date & time

Fri 26 Aug 2022, 10am–1.30pm


Seminar Room, China in the World Building #188


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Updated:  23 October 2023/Responsible Officer:  Centre Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications