Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Murdoch student adds indigenous voice to climate challenge
By Carmelo Amalfi
MURDOCH University youth delegate Braden Hill, 22, says the Copenhagen conference marks a personal and historic moment to change the world.
One of only two Indigenous Australians attending the climate change conference, Braden said simply being there was overwhelming and amazing.
Braden says the indigenous voice has been largely lost on the international stage.
“At Copenhagen, there is an opportunity for indigenous people to be heard,” he says. “I am interested in climate change and want to do what I can do to save the planet.”
Braden, a Wardandi man from Nyungar country in southwestern WA, has completed a double degree, including a Bachelor in Education (secondary) and Bachelor of Arts (Australian Indigenous Studies), with a minor in history and English.
“Young people will inherit what comes out of Copenhagen,” Braden says, adding the majority of the Indigenous population in Australia is under 25.
He says ultimately economics will determine whether or not people act.
“If it impacts on our standard of living, the cost of a meal or electricity bills, all of a sudden it will become a reality.
“And it is starting to happen now. There will be an economic sacrifice.”
Climate change is particularly important for Nyungar peoples, whose country will feel the impacts of a changing climate, he says.
Braden believes Indigenous Australians can play a leading role in tackling the adverse impacts of climate change such as rising temperatures and sea levels.
Climate change threatens Indigenous culture and the land that is so essential to cultural traditions and survival.
He says there is an urgent need for stronger partnerships between scientists, academics and indigenous custodians of knowledge dating back thousands of years.
For the past two years, Braden has worked as a casual tutor at the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre at Murdoch, working with students embarking on undergraduate studies.
Through his involvement in several research projects at the Murdoch Centre for Social and Community Research, Braden has gained valuable insights into the environmental management in the South-West and the potential for using Indigenous knowledge to improve land and natural resource management practices within one of the most biodiverse regions of the world.
Braden also is investigating the Indigenous history of Wadjemup (Rottnest Island) and the opportunity to develop WA’s iconic location into a symbol of active reconciliation under an Australian Research Council grant.
He was one of 20 young Australians chosen by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition to attend the UN climate negotiations. The Australian delegation will meet other youth representatives from around the world. It plans to organise media stunts and release information to the media while in Copenhagen.
Braden will be blogging every few days at http://www.aycc.org.au.