Aboriginal Food Knowledge Forum

The Merinj Kaartdijin – Aboriginal Food Knowledge Forum was held on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 November at the Albany Entertainment Centre with over 100 people attending over the two days from across the State.

Attendees heard from national and internationally recognised experts about the common ground created by sharing bushfoods, as well as the complexities of managing traditional cultural knowledge, protecting intellectual property and growing local native plants.

The topics of discussion were put to the test through a bush food field trip into the Albany hinterland with local Noongar experts from Kurrah Mia guiding the tour. The trip included viewing oyster beds at the culturally significant Kalgan Fish Traps, complemented with catering prepared by local Noongar business, the Kinjarling Indigenous Corporation. After a scenic bus ride north participants enjoyed a foraging tour at Twin Creeks Conservation Reserve which culminated in a remarkable bush food inspired gourmet lunch hosted by the Friends of the Porongurup Range.

The forum brought together a fabulous range of local, interstate and international experts, specialists and producers to examine the opportunities and challenges emerging in the contemporary bush foods market. Through lively and wide-ranging presentations, which focussed on Aboriginal knowledge and intellectual property, participants got a real sense of the potential convergence between local provenance bushfoods, agricultural innovation, ethical farming and todays discerning consumers that could deliver significant benefits to Aboriginal people.

A keynote address from indigenous advocate Joe Morrison positioned the forum in a national context. A poetic wrap-up by acclaimed local author Kim Scott challenged attendees to reflect on the best way forward in the emerging bush food space to ensure that traditional knowledge, economic empowerment and agricultural innovation are strategically deployed in ways that maintain cultural integrity.

The Merinj Kaartdijin forum coincided with the Kinjarling Djinda Ngardak celebration gala dinner on 23 November at the Albany Entertainment Centre. Opened by Aboriginal Affairs Minister and Treasurer Ben Wyatt the dinner concluded a week of celebrity chef-led intercultural cooking activities with Aboriginal high school students from across WA. Nearly 200 guests enjoyed an extraordinary bush food dinner and marvelled at the achievements and the successes of the Aboriginal students and the unique educational catering program.

The forum was arranged by South Coast Natural Resource Management, through funding from the Australian Governments’ National Landcare Program in partnership with Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Kinjarling Djinda Ngardak and supported by Katanning Landcare, Great Southern Development Commission, City of Albany, and the Albany Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Presentations and Resources

The Fat of the Land video – Paul Iskov – Fervor

IP Food for Thought: Intellectual Property and Protecting Indigenous Bush Foods – Terri Janke & Company

IP Food for thought IP and Bushfoods Merinj Kaartdijin Conference Paper