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National First Nations bushfood body calls to become custodians of the Orana Foundation native food

First Nations Bush Foods & Botanical Alliance Australia is  putting its hand up to offer a safe and culturally appropriate home to the native food database developed by the Orana Foundation.

First Nations Bush Foods & Botanical Alliance Australia (the Alliance) is a newly established First Nations controlled peak Industry body which formed out of a meeting of 120 First Nations people from across Australia at the inaugural National Indigneous Bushfood Symposium held in Sydney last November 2019.

Alice Springs based, Northern Territory representative, Rayleen Brown said, the Alliance's cultural objectives included ethically maintaining the knowledge that has been passed down to our members as First Nations people that has made the bush foods Industry what it is today.

”The Alliance is committed to righting the wrongs of the past and asserting our rights and interests as First Nations people in this country, over an industry that has been overtaken by non-Indigenous people and businesses. 

“By providing a culturally safe home for this database we will protect its knowledge and lead  a generational change in our nation’s recognition of first nations intellectual and cultural property”.

Rayleen has spent the last 20 years running her own bushfoods business in Central Australia as well as advocating for the recognition of the contribution of Aborginal women who wild harvest in the Central Desert regions.

She was part of a group of Aborginal woman from across Australia who previously attempted to create a database, but as with the case of many First Nations lead project proposals, it wasn’t supported.

“I have had the fortune to work at many levels in the industry.  I have contributed to a number of research projects with Co-operative Research Centre’s.and worked with Traditional Owners and 5 different language groups to develop ethical guidelines for the bush foods industry.”

“We feel strongly that we need to protect the knowledge in this database. It belongs to thousands of generations before us and it’s our cultural obligation as First Nations people to ensure it’s protected and kept safe.”

Information about the new body

The Alliance was established as a result of the national conversation that took place amongst 120 first nations representatives at the inaugural National Indigenous Bushfood Symposium in Sydney late November 2019.  

At the end of the Symposium, the Statement from the National Indigenous Bushfood Symposium was developed by all, calling for a number of actions including the formation of a national First Nations lead industry body.

Over the past five months, a steering committee of 24 First Nations people from across Australia have worked solidly to form the national body and are committed to their ongoing participation to ensure the development of a thriving Indigenous bush foods and botanicals business sector.

A Board has been appointed consisting of key Indigenous people and will eventually represent all the States and Territories. The Alliance will advocate and make representation at political levels as well as with relevant authorities, bodies and industry stakeholders in relation to Indigenous involvement in the bushfood and botanical industry.  

The Alliance will focus on a blueprint for the protection of Indigenous knowledges and value add to the number of Indigenous businesses participating in the domestic and international supply chains.

The Alliance will be working to deliver the key action items coming out of the Symposium which are:

  1. Implementing protocols to set national standards on how to work with First Nations people in the industry: 

  2. Provenance and authenticity: to protect First Nation producers, respect our protocols and recognise our custodianship.

  3. Changes to the law: to respect and protect First Nations knowledge in bushfoods and bush products should be protected by the laws of this land and business practice. This includes intellectual property; penalties for misappropriation and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.

  4. Education and Awareness: promote respect for our First Nations Knowledge values and protocols.

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