Macquarie University researcher Jo Packer conducts one of the many interviews with Yaegl elders about local bush medicines.
Macquarie University researcher Jo Packer conducts one of the many interviews with Yaegl elders about local bush medicines. Jitendra Gaikwad

Yaegl project success

BUSH medicine, stories and science have underpinned a long-term relationship between Yaegl elders and university researchers.

For six years, Yaegl elders and the Indigenous Bioresources Research Group at Macquarie University have been sharing stories and skills in a research collaboration that has proved mutually successful.

The aim of the project has been to record Yaegl historical and customary information to preserve the valuable knowledge for its cultural and educational significance.

A particular focus of the group is on the documentation of bush medicines and investigating how they work from a scientific viewpoint.

To date, researchers from the project have spoken to more than 20 elders and have recorded details of more than 100 plants.

Researcher Jo Packer said a handbook containing the Yaegl information was in the final stages of being edited and would be published soon.

In return for the stories and information shared by Yaegl elders, scientists from Macquarie University have shared their knowledge and skills with Aboriginal students at Maclean High School.

Now in its fifth year, the Indigenous Science Education Program has used science activities to provide leadership skills for Maclean High students and pathways for further education.

The collaboration has been so successful, Jo said the university was looking to expand the project to include stories from across the Northern Rivers region.

Any interested Aboriginal people who would like to speak about bush foods and medicines, or other local history, should contact Jo on 0450 537 386.

She will be in the Northern Rivers region until February 7.

Representatives from the university and Yaegl elders and students who have been involved in the project so far will meet in Maclean this week to discuss and review the project. A short film on the collaboration will screen on ABC TV later this year.



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