Indigenous knowledge in urban research

Posted 1 Jul 19

Kalinya worked with the Clean Air and Urban Landscape Hub to create materials to communicate their Indigenous engagement method called the 3 Category Approach.

Cross-cultural work in an urban context is new to many researchers and practitioners. It’s not easy or straight forward.

We started by developing a research-based strategy. We had one on one conversations with city decision makers, urban planners, architects, and environmental researchers. Then developed customer personas and a strategy to address each of their needs.

We learnt that Indigenous engagement can feel both daunting and confusing and so we created a reflective workbook as a guide.

The workbook is based on an academic methodology; The 3 Category Approach. Indigenous engagement in research is discussed in three categories: communicate, collaborate and codesign. Users are guided through each category, given suggested actions to take and prompted to reflect on their work and research approach.

In 2016, Torres Strait Islander researcher, scientist and consultant Stan Lui developed The 3 Category Approach with members of the Indigenous Advisory Committee of the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy. According to Stan, this methodology was a way to help foster positive and respectful relationships between researchers and Indigenous people. “The connection between land, sea and people is at the heart of Indigenous culture and an important part of the past, present and future of their estates,” explains Stan. “Empowering Indigenous people in land and sea management helps keep culture strong and ensures a future that is guided by people who live in the area and understand and promote its unique biodiversity and characteristics.”

Kalinya was engaged to turn a complex academic methodology, with reporting outcomes specific to the work of the The National Environmental Science Program, and to communicate it in a way that would connect with broader audiences. Jirra worked with graphic designer Lily Sawenko and illustrations from Dixon Patten to make it accessible and transferrable to other organisations and research bodies.