Monthly Archives: November 2016

Economic enablers

What are the enablers of economic participation in remote and very remote Australia, and how can we identify them?

Eva McRaeWilliarns, John Guenlher, Damien Jacobsen & Judith LoveII


In this paper we discuss some of the key learnings from the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation (CRC REP), Remote Economic Participation, Pathways to Employment and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism Product research projects.

While we do not deny the importance of global markets for remote Australians, we see value in opportunity structures that move beyond the confines of traditional economic and human capital theories. It is through acknowledging and building on local residents’ social, identity, cultural and natural capital strengths that, we argue, has a greater potential for supporting increased economic engagement and sustainable participation. Framing our learnings through a theoretical lens of different forms of capital we argue a shift in discourse from one of ‘disadvantage’ to one of remote advantage would be more supportive of education, employment and enterprise outcomes for local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander residents. While such a shift will not contribute significantly to the Gross National Product we argue that it would have important tangible and economic benefits for local people and the nation.

Involving students

AAEE Paper 2015 from project


Histories of Engineering make little mention of the engineering activities of the Australian Aboriginal civilisation either before – or after – the arrival of European influences. Until Blainey’s most recent volume Australian history (Blainey, 2015) texts also make no mention of engineering activities in the era prior to the arrival of European residents. Exploring why this is so is the province of History, Sociology, Anthropology and Archaeology, not Engineering. However, in the context of Engineering Education the issue came into focus as team members worked on developing a model for embedding Indigenous (see afterword for comment regarding terminology) perspectives into engineering curricula. The goal is to encourage educators and students to collaborate in building more inclusive learning spaces.

Underground water Management

Aboriginal people built water tunnels

ABC Science Online
Wednesday, 15 March 2006


Rainbow serpent
The rainbow serpent, a key Aboriginal Dreamtime creation symbol, is closely connected with Indigenous knowledge of groundwater systems (Image: Reuters)

Indigenous Australians dug underground water reservoirs that helped them live on one of the world’s driest continents for tens of thousands of years, new research shows.

The study, which is the first of its kind, indicates Aboriginal people had extensive knowledge of the groundwater system, says hydrogeologist Brad Moggridge, knowledge that is still held today.

Some 70% of the continent is covered by desert or semi-arid land, which meant its original inhabitants needed to know how to find and manage this resource if they were to survive.

“Aboriginal people survived on one of the driest continents for thousands and thousands of years,” says Brad Moggridge, who is from Kamilaroi country in northern New South Wales.

“Without water you die. They managed that water sustainably.”

Moggridge, currently a principal policy officer in the New South Wales Department of Environment and Conservation, did his research as part of a Masters degree at the University of Technology, Sydney – see Ground water Dreaming

He based his work on oral histories, Dreamtime stories, rock art, artefacts and ceremonial body painting as well as written accounts by white missionaries, surveyors, settlers, anthropologists and explorers.

Working on country

Working on country: a case study of unusual environmental program success

Kathleen Mackie and David Meacheam School of Business, University of NSW, Canberra, Australia


Many programs have failed in attempting to tackle Indigenous disadvantage, through remote-area employment and environment activities. In the 1990s and 2000s, the federal environment department’s Contract Employment Program for Aboriginals in Natural and Cultural Resource Management and Indigenous Protected Areas program made small but valuable advances. In the post-2005 Indigenous reform agenda, the environment department took the opportunity to go the next step, proposing in 2007 a program paying award wages for Indigenous rangers caring for country. The result, Working on Country, is acknowledged as an environmental, employment, and social success. By September 2013, nearly 700 rangers in 90 projects cared for 1.5 million square kilometres of country. Theoretical understanding of ‘policy success’ is recognised as an embryonic field within public policy theory. Working on Country provides a fertile case to investigate ‘policy success’. Interviews with federal environment departmental officials show that, in the particular case of Working on Country, keys to policy success were the lengthy evolution and ‘road testing’ of the program concept, authentic stakeholder engagement, and subsuming the environment objectives. We enunciate the unusual factors that were brought to bear in that success, and inquire if they are replicable.

Photostory used in water management research

Using PhotoStory to capture irrigators’ emotions about water policy and sustainable development objectives: A case study in rural Australia Ganesh B Keremane, Jennifer McKay


Participatory research approaches have gained popularity within the natural resource management domain, particularly irrigation management since 1980s. Some of these methods allow the examination of values and emotions with regard to the management of natural resources and hence can supplement other ways of eliciting community responses to policy change. This article discusses the methodology and findings of an image-based participatory research project called PhotoStory. The project was conducted with members of stressed and conflicted irrigation communities in rural Australia. Participants were provided with cameras to record their views about different issues related to sustainable water management and conflicts and were also able to record their emotions and values on these topics. Findings of this project – PhotoStory – give a two-dimensional narration (visual and written) about complex issues related to water policy such as the creation of regional water allocation plans. This method answers how plans and a widespread drought have been experienced and interpreted by people living in two communities. The article concludes with some pros and cons of using this technique with an irrigation community and reflects on the use made of the work by the community and policy-makers.

Corresponding author: Ganesh B Keremane, Centre for ComparativeWater Policies and Laws and National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, School of Commerce, University of South Australia, City West Campus, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia Email:

Photostory methodology

Photo Elicitation Methods in Engineering Research

Jessica Kaminsky, University of Washington, USA


Construction research often uses case study methods to investigate the large and singular projects that are a hallmark of the profession. These studies increasingly use informant interviews as a strategy to develop detailed case based knowledge. In contrast, photo elicitation uses photographs or other images in interviews to elicit informant knowledge, and is particularly well suited for understanding knowledge and perspectives other than the researchers’. As such photo elicitation has particular potential for researchers interested in sustainability, human factors in design, and other transdisciplinary topics. This method has a rich history in many academic disciplines; however, to date it has not been applied in construction research. This paper presents the method and suggestions for its application in construction research, drawing from insights gained in other disciplines to develop recommendations that can be used to achieve high quality research results. It also presents important limitations, benefits, and ethical considerations of the method important for a researcher to consider when applying it to construction and engineering research.


Vocal tract resonances and the sound of the Australian didjeridu (yidaki) I. Experiment available

Alex Z. Tarnopolsky Neville H. Fletcher Lloyd C. L. Hollenberg Benjamin D. Lange, John Smith, and Joe Wolfeb

The didjeridu, or yidaki, is a simple tube about 1.5 m long, played with the lips, as in a tuba, but mostly producing just a tonal, rhythmic drone sound. The acoustic impedance spectra of performers’ vocal tracts were measured while they played and compared with the radiated sound spectra. When the tongue is close to the hard palate, the vocal tract impedance has several maxima in the range 1–3 kHz. These maxima, if sufficiently large, produce minima in the spectral envelope of the sound because the corresponding frequency components of acoustic current in the flow entering the instrument are small. In the ranges between the impedance maxima, the lower impedance of the tract allows relatively large acoustic current components that correspond to strong formants in the radiated sound. Broad, weak formants can also be observed when groups of even or odd harmonics coincide with bore resonances. Schlieren photographs of the jet entering the instrument and high speed video images of the player’s lips show that the lips are closed for about half of each cycle, thus generating high levels of upper harmonics of the lip frequency. Examples of the spectra of “circular breathing” and combined playing and vocalization are shown. © 2006 Acoustical Society of America. DOI: 10.1121/1.2146089

For more on Acoustics word UNSW by Benjamin Lange