Article Title

Indigenous Engagement in Tropical River Research in Australia: The TRaCK Program


The literature on scientific-Indigenous ecological knowledge collaborations rarely analyses programmatic efforts undertaken by multi-disciplinary research groups over very large geographic scales. The TRaCK (Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge) research program was established to provide the science and knowledge needed by governments, industries, and communities to sustainably manage northern Australia’s rivers and estuaries. A number of policies and procedures were developed to ensure that the needs of Indigenous people of the multi-jurisdictional region were addressed and to enhance the benefits they might derive from participating in the research. An overarching Indigenous Engagement Strategy undergirded the program’s engagement activities, providing guidance on matters relating to the protection of intellectual property, negotiation of research agreements, remuneration for Indigenous expertise, and communications standards. This article reviews the achievements and shortcomings of the TRaCK experience of Indigenous engagement and highlights lessons for researchers and research organisations contemplating applied environmental science initiatives of this scale and scope.


We thank the many Indigenous people with whom the TRaCK program has collaborated with for their willingness to engage in this program and to share their country and knowledge with the researchers. We thank Mona Liddy, Lizzie Sullivan, Marciel Lawrence, and Ruth Link for many discussions and debates about Indigenous engagement in the TRaCK program and Joe Morrison, who was an author on the TRaCK IES review. J. and R. Coutts, Dermott Smyth, and Kate Golson are acknowledged for undertaking the reviews that underpinned the TRaCK IES review. TRaCK receives major funding for its research through the Australian Government Commonwealth Environment Research Facilities initiative, the Australian Government’s Raising National Water Standards Program, Land and Water Australia, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, and the Queensland Government’s Smart State Innovation Fund. We also thank the journal’s reviewers for their helpful comments.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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