Sharing Elders’ traditional weather knowledge on the web

Sharing Elders’ traditional weather knowledge on the web

Indigenous Affairs Education
Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

For over 50,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have lived on their country and learned about the changing of the seasons, building an intricate knowledge of their environment. Now, communities around Australia are working with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to share their knowledge through the Indigenous Weather Knowledge website and Djarra Delaney feels privileged to be part of it.

Djarra, from the Quandamooka people of North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah), grew up listening to elders discussing local weather patterns and what was expected during the different seasons. Djarra decided he wanted to be involved in recording and sharing this knowledge.

“I grew up on an island with a delicate environment, so knowing about the weather and what the different seasons bring is very important to the community; it is important to understand availability of fish or to know when or when not to have a camp fire.”  Djarra said.

“I knew about the Indigenous Weather Knowledge website before I started with BoM and I wanted to work on it because it has the potential to be an incredible educational tool.  The website recognises the importance of Indigenous weather knowledge and sharing information with younger generations to keep culture, knowledge and language strong in community.”

Since starting with BoM in November 2014 as part of the Australian Government Indigenous Pathways Programme, Djarra has been involved with the Indigenous Weather Knowledge website, working with Elders and communities to share their traditional weather knowledge. Communities retain complete ownership of their knowledge, with BoM providing the digital space to share that information.

“We’re building relationships with communities so they know they will remain in control of their knowledge and that we won’t publish anything without their formal approval. We have to gain their trust and be respectful of communities’ wishes if this project is to be successful.” 

The website is currently undergoing a major redesign to ensure the site is up to date and can be viewed on mobiles and tablet devices. The new site is now live, a moment Djarra has been looking forward to.

“I am very passionate about this project and the valuable resource it can provide to communities and to our country about Indigenous weather and environmental science.”

I’m also hoping to get the opportunity to spend time in my community on North Stradbroke to learn more from my Elders’ knowledge about the weather and the environment and hopefully include it on the map.”