Centre on Traditional Knowledge to be a reality 

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Helen Garnett with Minister for Employment, Education and Training, Paul Henderson

The Northern Territory Government will commit an investment of $2.5 million to help establish a United Nations University Centre on Traditional Knowledge with Charles Darwin University (CDU) as host partner.

Minister for Employment, Education and Training, Paul Henderson last week visited CDU’s Casuarina campus to announce the NTG’s commitment of $500,000 a year for a period of five years for a centre for Traditional Knowledge to be established at CDU.

The announcement of the internationally focused research and training facility coincided with the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on 9 August.

CDU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Helen Garnett said the development of a United Nations University Centre on Traditional Knowledge with CDU as host provided a range of opportunities to promote the recognition of the value of Traditional Knowledge systems in Australia.

“It will allow us to share the successes of the application of Indigenous knowledge from around the globe with Australia, achieve benefits for Indigenous Australians, support the development of CDU and leverage funding from new sources for Indigenous education and research,” she said.

“We are looking to grow a major centre for Traditional Knowledge here at CDU and we hope it will attract an entire range of other Traditional Knowledge systems.

“The support and backing the NTG has provided this initiative has been terrific and demonstrates their commitment to fostering Traditional Knowledge.”

Minister Henderson said the Northern Territory Government saw the Centre as a pathway to developing new opportunities for Indigenous Territorians.

"By harnessing the unique knowledge of Indigenous Territorians for practical applications in areas such as science and environmental management, the Centre for Traditional Knowledge will help develop new economic opportunities, particularly in our remote and regional areas," Mr Henderson said.

"The Northern Territory's knowledge-based industries are continuing to grow, from Desert Knowledge in the Centre to Tropical Knowledge in the Top End.

"The Government recognises Charles Darwin University as the natural home for a Centre for Traditional Knowledge and is pleased to support this initiative."

Growing out of the United Nations University’s (UNU) work on Traditional Knowledge, the potential for a UNU Centre on Traditional Knowledge had become apparent. The UNU recognised that it could play an important role in the international debate on Traditional Knowledge and late last year it recommended that CDU was the suitable host institution for the initiative in consideration of its strong leadership capabilities, links with indigenous communities, ability to raise funds and overall interest in the UNU initiative on Traditional Knowledge.

The Centre will focus on research and training in many aspects of the traditional knowledge of Indigenous communities from a global perspective, develop the capacity of Indigenous communities and provide significant and direct benefits. In particular the Institute will:

• Promote the use of traditional knowledge in national and local education systems;
• Promote respect and use of traditional knowledge in mainstream science and technology;
• Promote greater self-reliance for Indigenous people;
• Develop greater resilience of traditional knowledge;
• Develop the capacity of Indigenous communities to use their knowledge in a globalised economy.

“An internationally focused traditional knowledge research and training institution provides unique opportunities to make the linkages necessary to developing innovative and effective approaches that fully recognise the value of Traditional Knowledge and foster the sustainability of communities for whom traditional knowledge is the cornerstone of culture and survival,” Professor Garnett said.