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Keeping Country well to keep people well: SCU Buzz

Dr Kelly Menzel and student host River Mueller in recording studio


18 March 2024

For First Nations Peoples, humans are part of an interconnected system with the earth and its environments. Associate Professor at Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, Kelly Menzel, spoke on SCU Buzz podcast about the importance of planetary health for all populations.

According to Associate Professor Menzel, humans are one small part of a bigger ecosystem.

“Every element of that interconnected system has to be well in order for the planet to be well,” Associate Professor Menzel said. “If elements are out of balance then the planet is not well, which is representative of what we are experiencing now with catastrophic climate change.

“From a health perspective, I see planetary health as replacing population health. We need to look at things in an interconnected way, inclusive of keeping people well, but we also have to keep Country well.

“Aboriginal people were the first scientists and so much of our knowledge of looking after Country and place are ancient and worked for a really long time. We need to go back to what was working. There’s so much to be learnt from ancient knowledges so that we can heal place and the planet.”

Associate Professor Menzel said it is important for all Australian to understand First Nations histories.

“I think it’s really important for people to understand the 60,000 years’ worth of histories prior to colonisation and the 270 years post-colonisation,” Associate Professor Menzel said.

“Part of our responsibility of being Australian is understanding our history, and that truth-telling part of our history.”

She said rather than being an ally to First Nations Peoples, individuals should aim to be co-conspirators: “Allies don’t have skin in the game. An accomplice and co-conspirator does. A co-conspirator will stand next to you, take a risk and be at the front of it with an Indigenous person.”

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