The 2019 Knowledge Intersections Symposium marked the Symposium’s third appearance. Focusing on promoting research in Central Australia, its primary objective is to provide a platform for researchers to connect with each other and learn about past and ongoing desert research projects.
The Symposium provided a platform for early-career and established researchers to connect and share their knowledge, ideas and experiences in desert research. It also presented the opportunity for first-time presenters to share their work and learn about the numerous opportunities and pathways available to them as researchers in Central Australia.
After a Welcome to the Precinct from Elder-in-Residence Harold Furber, keynote speakers Dr. Leisa McCarthy and Zania Liddle gave the opening presentation and set the tone for this year’s theme, “Red Dirt Knowledge from the Heart”.
Dr. Leisa McCarthy and Zania Liddle: “Research at the intersections: how did we get here and how do we know where to go?”
Drawing on their own experiences as Aboriginal researchers, McCarthy and Liddle focused on Aboriginal identity and health and education research. Their presentation advocated for practitioners to engage in introspection on their practice as a key mechanism for both improving practice and making a contribution to the body of knowledge in these two disciplines.
McCarthy and Liddle’s address also touched on the potential of Aboriginal-led research in Central Australia, and how diversity and shared values within the Aboriginal communities could compliment future research projects, paving the road forward for desert research.
The Symposium then witnessed an address from Dr. Dan Tyson, CEO of DKA, who told the story of DKRI and its potential in facilitating research collaborations and desert research programs in Central Australia.
DKRI’s status as a registered charity allows the organisation to access funding for desert research, and furthers its primary goal of connecting researchers and creating opportunities in remote and regional Australia. DKRI’s focus areas are Place, People and Knowledge, which align with the strategic direction of DKA.
Dr. John Guenther from Batchelor Institute shared his insights on two projects he had been working on, including inDigiMOB, a Telstra-funded project managed by First Nations Media Australia. inDigiMOB’s primary objective is to promote digital inclusion and digital learning within remote First Nations communities. Drawing on the project’s year-two evaluation, Guenther and inDigiMOB Project Manager Ben Smede highlighted the project’s efficacy which is rooted in the program’s affinity for the needs of the local community.
Dr. John Guenther and Ben Smede: “Lessons from an evaluation of inDigiMOB”
Guenther also spoke of his collaboration with the Child Friendly Alice Project Team to create a community profile on Alice Springs residents and their ambitions for children and youth in the community. The profile was a pioneer project which, not unexpectedly, came with its share of challenges, but the team’s steady efforts proved worthwhile in creating an authentic portrait of the Alice Springs community.
The profile mapped statistics within the community against the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) Nest Framework, and provided recommendations on using the data effectively to address areas of growth.
The Symposium concluded with a discussion on desert research and feedback about the event. The response was overwhelmingly positive with participants unanimously voting for a continuing Symposium and many calling for a longer event spread over two days. A key concern for discussants was the need for continuing flexibility to further the Symposium’s objective of supporting opportunity and inclusiveness in Central Australian research.
Discussion: “What do we do with all this knowledge?”
The discussion also highlighted the magnitude of the Symposium with participants from many different research disciplines all having something to take away. “Red Dirt Knowledge from the Heart” was successful in connecting participants with backgrounds in Indigenous studies, engineering, digital innovation, education, health and medicine, but with a common goal: to support and learn about research in Central Australia, and work towards a stronger remote Australia.