In this episode I had a wonderful conversation with Dr. Emma Lee, a trawlwulwuy woman of tebrakunna country in north east Tasmania, and an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne University of Technology. Her research fields over the last 25 years have focused on Indigenous affairs, land and sea management, policy and governance of Australian regulatory environments.
In this episode Emma tells us about her background in Indigenous archeology and land management, and passion for First Nations social impact and regional development. I flip the script a little bit from our usual question order and in this episode we start with discussing the emerging trend of Smart Country that people definitely aren’t talking about enough. Emma explains what country is and the connection to country that First Nations people have, some of the things we can learn from Smart Country like fire management, a broader concept of conservation, and a reciprocal relationship with the land and environment.
Emma shares with us the power of language and the way it has been and is used to position Indigenous and First Nations ways of knowing as less than the coloniser’s knowledge, the decolonising and grieving work we all need to be doing, and the balance we need to strike between the global focus that is prioritised in academia and our modern world, with the deep local knowledge that is so important to Smart Country and Community.
Emma tells us how this played out in her work with the Reset the Relationship Government Strategy that she helped create, and the doors that were opened and the shift that was created through a statement of love amongst the hate. We then touch on how social media creates and fuels division and how important inclusion is in our Smart Communities, as well as the concept of individual responsibility within a community and the big mindset shift that is for so many of us.
We finish our chat discussing where to next for Smart Country and Smart Communities. This was a really powerful interview and I’m so glad Dr Emma Lee agreed to come on the podcast. As always we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.
What we cover in this episode:
- Emma’s background in Indigenous archeology and land management
- Her passion for First Nations social impact and regional development
- The emerging trend of Smart Country that people definitely aren’t talking about enough
- What country is and the connection to country First Nations people have
- How to bring our focus back to what is truly important in Smart Country and Smart Community
- Things we can learn from the concept of Smart Country like fire management, a broader idea of conservation, and a reciprocal relationship with the land and environment
- Some first steps to take to connect country with governance
- The power of language and the way it has been and is used to position Indigenous and First Nations ways of knowing as less than the coloniser’s knowledge
- The decolonising and grieving work we all need to be doing
- Belonging as an important part of country and also community, and even more important in our hyper-connected but lonely world of technology
- The balance we need to strike between the global focus that is prioritised in academia and our modern world, with the deep local knowledge that is so important to Smart Country and Community
- About the Reset the Relationship Government Strategy that Emma helped create
- The doors that were opened and the shift that was created through a statement of love amongst the hate
- How social media creates and fuels division and the importance of inclusion in our communities
- The concept of individual responsibility within community and the big mindset shift that is for so many of us
- Where to next for Smart Country and Smart Community
“In Tasmania, we’re exceptional in the sense that we are the southern-most oldest isolated population, so we’ve been here in our countries for over 10,000 years. That connection runs very deep.”
“What I care deeply about is Smart Country, and I believe that this is going to be an emerging trend because it’s a trend that’s been here for maybe 120,000 years, according to newest research country. For us it’s a genealogical kinship, reciprocity, marriage boundary that is a sovereign space of where we belong to.”
“If we think of governance as the authority to make decisions, and the relationship between decision makers and Indigenous peoples, [they] are not equal partners in a governance relationship, and in pretty much every aspect of our social, public and commercial lives.”
“Unfortunately, what colonisation has taught us is that lands and waters are there to be a resource for human agency to capture and extract, and happiness comes out of the other end of that, whether it be money or cars or trips overseas. So this dominion of nature, I see that as a deficit language that says [that] you can’t just have a connection and relationship just for the sake of it, you have to take something out of it. Country asks you just to give with no expectations.”
“I don’t need you as a public servant to do my job of human rights. I need you to do yours. But within this framework, you’re my brother or sister, we have kinship. And therefore we need to be reciprocal with each other.”
“We already know that social media is creating greater division, because it’s not a relationship. It’s a means in a technology of sharing and speaking, but it’s not a relationship. And to me, that’s been the greatest failure of foresight. So, come have relationships with these things, with each other.”
“I know that I am nothing without country. But I have individual responsibilities; it is a great responsibility to care for others, care for a country that defines me. That’s Smart Country.”
ICCA Consortium https://www.iccaconsortium.org
Tasmanian Wilderness UNESCO World Heritage Area https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/181/
The Orb (teaching resources for Tasmanian Aboriginal histories and cultures) https://www.theorb.tas.gov.au
Reset The Relationship Initiative https://www.communities.tas.gov.au/csr/oaa/resetting_the_relationship
Tasmanian Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal People http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/divisions/policy/constitutional_recognition_of_tasmanian_aboriginal_people
Find the full show notes at: www.mysmart.community
Connect with Emma via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Connect with me via email: email@example.com
The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Perk Digital.