Knowledge to protect Country in a changing climate

November 19, 2021

Climate vulnerable communities, such as Indigenous Australians, need to be supported to build their capacity to anticipate, prepare and respond to the impacts of a changing climate. This is a vital component of efforts, decisions and policies aimed at improving Australia’s climate resilience. 

The Climate Systems Hub values and commits to respectful partnerships with Indigenous Australians. These partnerships are integral to the ability of our science to inform relevant and useful climate adaptation responses for Indigenous communities, and to ensure our research can help communities better understand, prepare and respond to climate impacts on their community and land and sea Country.

To do this, the Hub is working with Indigenous experts and Traditional Owner groups, guided by our Indigenous facilitator Rowena Bullioto ensure these partnerships are strong and lasting, and that our research encompasses principles of freeprior and informed consent and Indigenous-led and co-designed protocols.

This will enable the integration of modern climate science and traditional culture and knowledge to provide communities with the information they need to protect Country in the face of climate change. 

Our guiding principles to Indigenous partnerships  

Working in a landscape of multiple knowledge systems, diverse landscapes and Traditional Owner groups, and varied disciplines, language, conduct and ethics, the Climate Systems Hub embraces the following guiding principles in our Indigenous partnerships and engagements: 

  • Build and maintain trusted relationships 
  • Appreciate different timelines 
  • Ensure free, prior and informed consent 
  • Understand that there are many Peoples, many cultures 
  • Respect the provision and ownership of traditional knowledge  
  • Identify benefits to Country and community 
  • Include Traditional Owners from the start (and all the way through) 
  • Ensure giving as well as taking (reciprocity) 
  • Remember that the connection to Country is forever.  


These principles are consistent with the NESP Indigenous partnerships principles that govern Indigenous activities across all four of the research Hubs under the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program (NESP).




As the Hub’s Indigenous facilitator, Rowena Bullio will also play an important role in representing the Hub in the NESP cross-Hub Indigenous Facilitation Network to ensure the impacts of climate change to Country are integrated into the environmental management research and activities across NESP. 

Rowena says the Climate Systems Hub will build upon and expand existing relationships that were formed by the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub.  

In that way, we are lucky to be building from such a strong base, including a number of important national events such as the 2021 National First Peoples Gathering on Climate Change and the 2018 National Indigenous Dialogue on Climate Change. But there’s still a long way to go and lots to do.’ says Rowena. 

Integrating traditional knowledge and perspectives into climate change research 

The Climate Systems Hub will go beyond just providing information about climate change to Indigenous communities. The Hub is investing in Indigenous research capability, supporting Indigenous-led processes and research and including Indigenous Australian perspectives in the Hub’s governance and strategies.  

By respecting Traditional Owner knowledge and perspectives and recognising that they should be integrated and incorporated into its research, the Hub will build climate change responses that are flexible, adaptative and able to be implemented to improve the climate resilience of Indigenous communities across Australia. 

More information  

Read more 


Back to News