Plants 4 People



Plants for People (P4P) is a research and education program aimed at assisting Aboriginal people to develop skills and capacity to undertake tertiary studies and/or develop business enterprises. The P4P team and Aboriginal community groups work in partnership to conduct a range of different capacity development activities focussed around the documentation of traditional knowledge about plants and their uses and the use of this knowledge in cultural revitalisation and enterprise development initiatives. 
P4P has a vision of 'inspire to aspire'. The P4P team assist Aboriginal community groups to strengthen their organisational structures and processes via a mentoring process, provide culturally appropriate education and training programs in relevant areas (remedial maths and English; introductory science; commercial studies), facilitate networking events between Aboriginal communities and assist individuals or groups to source resources for the incubation and start up phase of business enterprise development.
P4P approach to capacity development

In the P4P approach to achieving project goals, a clear distinction is made between capacity building and capacity development activities. Capacity development is regarded as a process of empowerment, both of individuals and communities and is achieved through acknowledging and honouring traditional knowledge about plants and their uses, encouraging passion and inspiration of potential Aboriginal entrepreneurs, enhancing self esteem and self confidence through cultural revitalisation projects and mentoring, providing information and helping groups source resources to conduct enterprises, developing leadership skills of key members of the group and assisting groups to develop networks and relationships with other like-minded Aboriginal communities and groups. Capacity building is seen as a subset of capacity development and refers to the building of existing capabilities of an individual or an organisation to reach a desired goal. Capacity building in the P4P program is achieved through education (both remedial and further education), up-skilling and technical competency development, assisting groups to develop effective governance skills and structures and the facilitation of networking between Aboriginal groups, government agencies and NGOs. 

Plants for People activities

The Plants for People program has conducted projects with Aboriginal communities from Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia through grants provided by government agencies, research centres and mining companies. Activities conducted in P4P projects fall into six main categories: 1) talking and planning; 2) field trips; 3) documentation of traditional plant knowledge; 4) education and mentoring programs; 5) networking events; 6) business planning and enterprise development activities; and 7) laboratory studies (see Appendix 1), with different activities being emphasised in different projects. 
Four major P4P projects have been conducted to date, two with the Titjikala community in Northern Territory and one each with Aboriginal communities in the Far West Coast, SA and the Tjupan Ngalia community in Leonora. On-going project work is underway with the Ngalang Boodja community in Collie and with the Wongatha Wonganarra community at Laverton. In addition, P4P was recently awarded funding for a project within the Australian School Innovation in Science, Technology and Mathematics (ASISTM) program, the 'Plants for People Multimedia Pilot Project - a New Paradigm in Mathematics and Science Education' project. This project is being conducted with primary and secondary schools in Collie, Bunbury and Leonora and will deliver an innovative multimedia resource tool that fosters a greater understanding of Indigenous culture within a maths and science framework (Appendix 2)


Key program outcomes to date are:

* The identification of a culturally appropriate and effective approach to project planning involving both Indigenous and non-Indigenous project participants
* The formulation of a project agreement format that protects the rights and intellectual property of all project participants, in particular Aboriginal groups and communities
* The enhancement of self confidence and capacity of Aboriginal participants to conduct a sustainable natural resource based enterprise
* Under the guidance and authority of Aboriginal Elders, preservation of traditional knowledge about plants and their uses in multimedia format
* The use of multimedia materials developed in the project in fostering an interest and commitment among young Aboriginal people to learning about and preserving their cultural heritage
* Laboratory validation of the medicinal value of plants identified by Aboriginal Elders through laboratory studies
* Business enterprise planning at three different communities
Further information

Further information about the program can be obtained from:

Professor Louis Evans
Executive Director, CSML
Tele: 041 791 7280

The range of activities conducted in Plants for People projects include:
* Talking and planning
Strategic planning meetings
Informal discussions
Field trips
Cultural trips to familiarise P4P staff with Aboriginal culture
Collection of plant specimens for laboratory analysis
Documentation of traditional plant knowledge
Recording of traditional knowledge through interviews and practical demonstrations
Photographing plants 
Researching the literature for published information about selected plants
Entering traditional knowledge about plants on an electronic data base 
Education and mentoring programs
Primary and secondary school projects focussed on science and maths education based on traditional knowledge about plants
University bridging course incorporating remedial maths and English tuition, an introduction to western science and commercial studies 
Undergraduate science course offered at regional locations
'On the job' training and 'learning through doing'
Networking events
P4P Annual Meeting, Perth 2005 (attended by NT, SA and WA communities)
Exchange visits between members of different Aboriginal communities
Convening or participation in networking and skills development workshops (Integrated aquaculture workshop, Northampton, 2005; FAB Soaps workshop, Titjikala, 2006; NRM & wildharvest workshop, Kalgoorlie, 2006; FAB enterprise workshop, Collie, 2006) 
Business planning and enterprise development activities
Facilitation of strategic planning sessions through workshops and meetings
Assistance with development of business plans
Assistance with grant applications to provide resources for enterprise project 
Laboratory studies
Proximate analysis of bush foods
Investigation of medicinal properties
Plants for People Multimedia Pilot Project - A New 
Paradigm in Mathematics and Science Education
The Centre for Sustainable Mine Lakes (CSML) at Curtin University has recently been awarded funding for a project within the Australian School Innovation in Science, Technology and Mathematics (ASISTM) program, the 'Plants for People Multimedia Pilot Project - a New Paradigm in Mathematics and Science Education' project. The major outcome of the project will be an innovative multimedia resource tool that fosters a greater understanding of Indigenous culture within a maths and science framework. Improved teacher and student understanding of Indigenous approaches to caring for country are anticipated. The project's success would lead to the adoption of this tool in other schools by incorporating Indigenous knowledge about plants and their uses into the learning material. The ongoing involvement of Indigenous Teacher Associates and Indigenous knowledge holders is required to support the learning program and will further encourage change and improvement in teaching and learning within these areas. 

The Plants for People Multimedia Pilot Project - a New Paradigm in Mathematics and Science Education, aims to deliver innovative multimedia teaching materials, focused on traditional knowledge of plants and Aboriginal understandings of the natural resilience of Australian ecological systems, to improve learning outcomes of years 6-9 within Science and Mathematics. The eighteen month project will commence in June 2006. It will emphasise to students that traditional culture has value and relevance, and encourage interest in further studies within these areas. For Indigenous students the project will raise self-esteem and cultural pride. A network of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Teachers Associates will support participating teachers to deliver the project, and assist teachers to use this innovative approach to developing knowledge and understanding about Indigenous sustainability principles and practices.

The multimedia resource tool incorporates virtual and practical-based strategies to understand Indigenous traditional knowledge of plants and their uses linked to Mathematics and Science learning outcomes - currently not available in primary and secondary schools. For upper primary students, the tool will include learning to construct (virtual-based), and constructing (practical-based), a horticulture plot where selected bush food seedlings will be planted, grown and monitored to ultimately harvest for consumption (where feasible). For lower secondary students, the tool will introduce students to food analytical procedures, which they will use to perform analysis on the harvested plants, the findings of which would be shared with the primary students. By including both primary and secondary schools as the target users, coordination in sustainability teaching will be enhanced. Combining interactive and activity-based projects will enhance student interest and engagement in the learning of maths and science and improve learning outcomes.

This P4P project involves collaboration between CSML, Teachers and Principals from each of the participating schools, Teachers associates, and education, multimedia and Indigenous consultants. Participating schools include Djidi Djidi Aboriginal School (Carey Park Bunbury), WA, Adam Road Primary School (South Bunbury), WA, Leonora District High School (Leonora), WA, Wilson Park Primary School (Collie), WA, Amaroo Primary School (Collie), WA, and the Collie Senior High School (Collie), WA. 

Five Indigenous and non-Indigenous Teachers Associates from the three study sites based in Collie, Bunbury and Leonora in Western Australia will be involved within this project. These will involve Indigenous elders and custodians from each of the study sites and the CSML project team members. Consultants include experts in the field of education, multimedia, and Indigenous culture. The Ngalang Boodja Aboriginal Corporation (NBAC), based in Collie, will participate in the growing of seedlings for each of the study sites and will work in close partnership with the Tjupan Ngalia Aboriginal Tribal Council based in Leonora.
Professor Louis Evans
Executive Director, CSML 0417 917 280


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