Extraction, Development & Indigenous Community Sustainability

18 May 2018

Over four days in May 2018, Indigenous community thinkers, researchers and academics from Chile and Australia got together in Brisbane and Stradbroke Island to critically discuss the problematics of extraction, development and Indigenous community sustainability. Projects involving mining, forestry, or other extraction context have brought enormous pressure and potential threats, as well as opportunities, for communities in Australia nd Chile. The group considered how legislation recognising Indigenous peoples’ rights to consultation prior to development impacts such projects, and how Indigenous peoples in these nations seek to manage consultation and negotiation with powerful interests, gain development advantages, or to resist extraction processes.

ISSR Indigenous Group Leader, Professor Paul Memmott, and Alex Bond initiated group collaborative thinking with a walking tour of Brisbane that outlined the city as a living Aboriginal landscape underlain with indigenous placenames and overlaid with the intensity of urban Aboriginal life, being and identity in the present.


At Stradbroke Island the group was welcomed by a representative of the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC), and explored the Islandw with environment specialist Brian Coghill, of GoorieMooka Tours.

With photographs, maps and rich narrative, Brian described how, for Quandamooka peoples, it is a highly complex enterprise to incorporate Aboriginal management of country especially as this important cultural area is also subject to mining leases, National Parks, International Conservation (RAMSAR), Native Title and other land tenure.

The group discussed the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge into planning and management of Stradbroke’s ecology and biodiversity as well as economy, with all the management complexities this entails.


The University of Queensland’s recently appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement), Professor Bronwyn Fredericks opened the symposium, followed by a short introduction to the comparative context of ‘extractivism’ and legislative forms of the recognition of indigenous peoples by Sally Babidge.

Charles Passi as Chair, led the discussion in which speakers emphasised the limitations of recognition of native title in Australia, and problems with legal recognition of indigenous rights in Chile (Indigenous Law). Stronger recognition of indigenous rights to manage resources in the contemporary world would be a step toward beginning to address social and environmental injustices. In the case of both Australia and Chile, speakers asserted that a range of new approaches is sorely needed and new responses to the realities of Indigenous peoples lives must be found. 

As a final point, Charles urged the attendees to think about the ways that the indigenous concept of land is always interrelated with people, responsibility and compromise.


The UQ Moreton Bay Research Station conference room hosted the afternoon discussion and Mr Charles Passi chaired the exchange. Participants in the discussion (here in the order of introductions on the day) included:

  • Dianne Nicholls (Tjungundji elder and member of the Old Mapoon Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Patricia Dallachy (Gudjal elder and Board member of the North Queensland Land Council)
  • Paul Memmott (Anthropologist & Architect ISSR & AERC, UQ)
  • Dale Ruska (Goorumpul Goorie owner and One Mile Residents Aboriginal Corporation, Stradbroke Island)
  • ConnieWebb (One Mile RAC, Stradbroke Island)
  • Tracey Kaden (One Mile Community RAC, Stradbroke Island)
  • Piero Di Giminiani (anthropologist, Universidad Catolica and Centre for Intercultural and Indigenous Research, CIIR, Chile)
  • Manuel Prieto (geographer, Universidad Catolica del Norte and CIIR)
  • Karina Yager (anthropologist, Stony Brook University, New York)
  • Nigel Wight (PhD candidate, Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, UQ)
  • Brian Coghill (Goorumpul people, Stradbroke Island)
  • Pekeri Ruska (Goorumpul and One Mile Community, Stradbroke Island)
  • Sally Babidge (anthropologist, University of Queensland)
  • Ana Ramos (President of the Atacamanian Peoples Council, Chile)
  • Oriana Mora (Indigenous Community of Peine, Chile)
  • Fernanda Kalazich (archaeologist, Universidad Catolica del Norte)
  • Judith Cruz (Indigenous Community of Peine, Chile)
  • Dante Choque (CIIR, Chile)

Event sponsors

  • Global Partnerships office, The University of Queensland
  • Indigenous Design Place, UQ
  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, UQ and the School of Social Science
  • Universidad Católica del Norte, Chile
  • Pontifica Universidad Católica, Chile
  • Centre for Intercultural and Indigenous Research (CIIR), Chile
  • Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, UQ
  • North Queensland Land Council
  • Virtus Heritage
  • The Global Change Institute

Thanks to the UQ Moreton Bay Research Station who hosted the group on Stradbroke Island.

This article is extracted from an event synopsis published by the UQ School of Social Science.