Indigenous scientist honoured for billabong preservation work


Ecologist Dr Joe Greet has received the Australian Academy of Science Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scientist Award for his research developing a Traditional Owner-led billabong health assessment framework for Australian wetlands.

A Research Fellow in the Faculty of Science, Dr Greet has found wetland health and sustainability are improved when Indigenous people lead the management of wetland systems, drawing upon knowledge gained from managing and identifying with land and waterscapes for millennia. Despite this, the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and Traditional Owners in the scientific investigation and management of freshwater environments in Australia remains limited, particularly in urban environments.

Dr Greet is developing a Traditional Owner-led framework for wetland health assessment and management using Melbourne’s degraded billabongs and riverine wetlands along the urbanised lower Birrarung (Yarra River) as example ecosystems and is also working with the Wurundjeri people to preserve the last remaining billabongs in Melbourne.

Celebrating STEM innovation

The Australian Academy of Science is an independent organisation of distinguished Australian scientists, championing science for the benefit of all. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scientist Award recognises research by outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early- and mid-career scientists, and PhD students.

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Post-doctoral researcher in Indigenous genomics at Telethon Kids Institute Dr Justine Clark also received the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scientist Award, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander precision cancer research at last month’s awards.

Indigenous knowledge supports sustainable land and water management

Dr Greet’s work brings together Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Traditional Owners and Indigenous scientists for on-Country workshops, sharing their knowledge and elevating the role of Traditional Owners in water and land management.

“This is a culturally significant and innovative project as it recognises the efficacy and importance of Traditional Owner leadership in the scientific investigation and management of freshwater environments,” Dr Greet said.

University of Melbourne Dean of Science Professor Moira O’Bryan said: “We congratulate Dr Greet on this significant achievement and appreciation of his important research efforts to develop Traditional Owner-led billabong and land management frameworks.”

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Dr Greet said he was humbled to receive the award from the Australian Academy of Science.

“I am most grateful for the Academy’s support to continue working with Narrap Rangers to develop a Wurundjeri-led billabong health assessment framework to better manage and help heal Country.”

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