Wednesday May 30, 6pm

Indigenous Weather Reports

Most Australians turn on the TV for the latest weather report but for thousands of years, indigenous people have been providing their own forecasts.


Now, scientific demand for indigenous weather knowledge is hotting up.

This week on Living Black, video journalist Jacinta Isaacs reports on new efforts to harness this local knowledge of weather patterns – knowledge that Jamie Thomas and John Collyer, managers of the Worn Gundidj Cultural Centre in southwest Victoria, can provide.

“What we really noticed in the last seven years is that there’s just a complete lack of water, and wildlife is slowing up,” Collyer tells Isaacs. The migratory birds just don’t come back anymore.”

“Finally we’re being asked to share that with the greater community,” says Thomas. “That’s an acknowledgement that makes the community feel good that our culture is finally being recognised.”

This expertise is being recognised by the Bureau of Meteorology, which now devotes space on its website to indigenous communities, inviting them to share their local knowledge of seasons and climate change. However, Dr Donna Green, who contributed to the United Nations recent report on climate change, says thats not enough. She says indigenous peoples’ detailed knowledge of local environmental changes, changes in cyclone frequency and crayfish availability, for example, can aid scientific research. She tells Isaacs: “The Bureau’s Indigenous Weather Knowledge site is a good small first step, but I think the significance of the information potentially warrants a much bigger and more ongoing project.

Keeping Kids Entertained

Growing up in an isolated community has its challenges, particularly when trying to keep kids interested in community life. But in the centre of the Australian desert, 530 km from Alice Springs, Living Black video journalist Tani Crotty discovers a community whose kids are anything but isolated.

In Kintore, the community is focused on keeping their kids happy, healthy and busy. There are literally dozens of activities on offer: playing in the local band, nutrition lessons, girls’ nights in, traditional hunting lessons and the ‘Healthy House’ initiative.

The driving force behind the program is Gina Merzliakov, Kintore’s Substance Abuse Officer: “Previously there was a lot of petrol sniffing here but not anymore, we’re creating programs for kids to do instead.”