Alice Springs conference hosts over 150 participants

Sept 30, 2021

Services: Knowledge Intersections Symposium 2021, Desert Knowledge Research Institute

More than 110 peo­ple gath­ered at the Desert Knowl­edge Precinct in Alice Springs, with an addi­tion­al 40 join­ing in online, to share their knowl­edge, ideas and expe­ri­ences in desert research.

The 2021 Knowl­edge Inter­sec­tions Sym­po­sium host­ed 39 pre­sen­ta­tions under five key themes: Enter­prise; Lan­guage and Learn­ing; Health and Well­be­ing; Knowl­edge Shar­ing; and Knowl­edge Intersections.

The event, now in its fourth edi­tion since 2017, built on the pre­vi­ous years’ tra­di­tion­al sym­po­sium for­mat to include inno­v­a­tive prac­tice events: tra­di­tion­al tool mak­ing, a heal­ing tent, and mar­ket stalls.

The Knowl­edge Inter­sec­tions Sym­po­sium is a unique knowl­edge-shar­ing event where aca­d­e­m­ic and cul­tur­al knowl­edges con­verge. It is a cel­e­bra­tion of the cen­tral Aus­tralian region and the ele­ments that make it so remark­able: its peo­ple, its col­lec­tive knowl­edge, and its resilience.”

- Dr Dan Tyson [Man­ag­ing Direc­tor, Desert Knowl­edge Research Institute]

    The Sym­po­sium pro­vides a space for both estab­lished and ear­ly-career researchers, as well as PhD stu­dents and local organ­i­sa­tions, to come togeth­er and share knowl­edge relat­ing to cen­tral Australia.

    The 2021 Sym­po­sium took place over 20 and 21 Sep­tem­ber; and was co-host­ed by the Desert Knowl­edge Research Insti­tute (DKRI), Charles Dar­win Uni­ver­si­ty (CDU), Batch­e­lor Insti­tute of Indige­nous Ter­tiary Edu­ca­tion (BIITE), and the Desert Peo­ples Cen­tre.

    20 Sep­tem­ber: Wel­come Function

    The two-day event kicked off at a gath­er­ing on the evening of 20 Sep­tem­ber, with a Wel­come to Precinct’ by Inter­cul­tur­al Elder-in-Res­i­dence Harold Furber. Harold set the tone for the event by high­light­ing the Precinct’s core pur­pose – which is to bring peo­ple togeth­er and share knowl­edge for the ben­e­fit of the community.

    Dr Dan Tyson (Man­ag­ing Direc­tor, DKRI & CEO, DKA) then said a few words wel­com­ing the crowd on behalf of DKA, where peo­ple had gath­ered for the evening.

    This was fol­lowed by the core Sym­po­sium team – Dr Judith Lovell (CDU), Assoc Prof John Guen­ther (BIITE), and Assoc Prof Kathryn Gilbey (BIITE) – address­ing the crowd with the theme for this year’s event: to recog­nise and cel­e­brate cen­tral Aus­tralian research, and sup­port the inter­sec­tion of desert knowl­edges, both aca­d­e­m­ic and cul­tur­al. The team also expressed their grat­i­tude to DKA Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Offi­cer Tra­cy Jones, who coor­di­nat­ed the event’s plan­ning and promotion.

    The rest of the evening was spent net­work­ing, and shar­ing sto­ries about exist­ing and upcom­ing projects.

    21 Sep­tem­ber: Sym­po­sium and Inno­va­tion Streams

    The main Sym­po­sium event on 21st morn­ing began with all par­tic­i­pants gath­ered at DKA’s Cork­wood Room for a Wel­come to Coun­try by Tra­di­tion­al Own­er Bene­dict Stevens, an Arrernte cus­to­di­an and Lhere Arte­pe representative.

    This was fol­lowed by three read­ings, which included:

    • Veron­i­ca Turn­er; read­ing an excerpt from Iwen­he Tyer­rtye: What it Means to be an Abo­rig­i­nal Per­son (writ­ten by Bar­ry McDon­ald and Mar­garet Kemarre Turner)
    • Myra Fale­tau; deliv­er­ing an excerpt from Lis­ten Deeply: Let These Sto­ries In (by Kath­leen Wal­lace and Dr Judith Lovell)
    • Shirley Turn­er; read­ing from Arel­heken­he Angken­tye: Wom­en’s Talk, Poems of Lyapirt­neme from Arrernte Women in Cen­tral Australia

    The keynote speak­ers, Leo Abbott and Assoc Prof Kathryn Gilbey, deliv­ered the open­ing talk for the day, high­light­ing the cel­e­bra­tion of local knowl­edge and out­lin­ing the need for com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The pair spoke about the impact of knowl­edge inter­sec­tions, and that it exists with­in the region through a response to Abo­rig­i­nal voic­es, in lead­er­ship, research, ethics, eval­u­a­tion, and in set­ting pri­or­i­ties for our com­mu­ni­ties and futures — com­mu­ni­ca­tion is more than language.

    The crowd then dis­persed over the var­i­ous ses­sions for the day, which ran con­cur­rent­ly over three streams at DKA and BIITE build­ings at the Desert Knowl­edge Precinct. Thir­ty-nine pre­sen­ta­tions ses­sions were deliv­ered by a com­bined total of 85 pre­sen­ters, and cov­ered enter­prise, tech­nol­o­gy, Abo­rig­i­nal lan­guage and his­to­ry, men­tal health, edu­ca­tion, eco­nom­ics, and many more. The var­i­ous top­ics all had a com­mon theme: shar­ing knowl­edge that ben­e­fits the cen­tral Aus­tralian community.

    The Sym­po­sium pro­vid­ed a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for us to share our expe­ri­ences with an audi­ence of com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers and researchers with a wealth of knowl­edge. We learned a great deal from hear­ing oth­ers’ sto­ries and appre­ci­at­ed the chance to make new con­nec­tions.”

    - Ellie Nor­ris [PhD Can­di­date, Charles Dar­win University]

    Mar­ket stalls and cul­tur­al activ­i­ties were held over lunch, includ­ing tra­di­tion­al tool mak­ing by Jamie Tjupurru­la, and a heal­ing tent by the Sex­u­al Assault Refer­ral Cen­tre. Batch­e­lor Insti­tute pro­vid­ed after­noon snacks and refresh­ments, and cooked kan­ga­roo tails and damper on campus.

    Pleas­ing­ly, the Sym­po­sium also pro­vid­ed a plat­form for the reunion of two friends from three decades past: Chris­tiane Stol­hofer, a wood sculp­tor in Botswana who pre­sent­ed online; and Pen­ny Wat­son, an Alice Springs res­i­dent who attend­ed when she chanced upon Christiane’s name in the pro­gram. The pair first met in 1987 when they were trav­el­ling through Africa, a time which marked Christiane’s tran­si­tion from sculpt­ing stone to carv­ing wood.

    Par­tic­i­pants showed engage­ment through­out the event, with many voic­ing appre­ci­a­tion for net­work­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, the abil­i­ty to share ideas, and the chance to learn about projects that they may not have oth­er­wise come across.

    The 2021 Knowl­edge Inter­sec­tions Sym­po­sium brought togeth­er indi­vid­u­als from around Aus­tralia and even beyond, cre­at­ing an inclu­sive plat­form to net­work, learn, and share desert knowledge.

    The Desert Knowl­edge Research Insti­tute, Charles Dar­win Uni­ver­si­ty, Batch­e­lor Insti­tute of Indige­nous Ter­tiary Edu­ca­tion, and the Desert Peo­ples Cen­tre thank every­one who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the 2021 Knowl­edge Inter­sec­tions Sym­po­sium. We hope to see you at the next edition.

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