Institute Programs

Indigenous Engagement Working Group

Indigenous Engagement Working Group

In recognition of the close association between the natural environment, cultural values and Indigenous communities, EIANZ established the Indigenous Engagement Working Group (IEWG) in early 2020 to engage more meaningfully with the traditional custodians of the land in Australia and New Zealand.

The environment profession shares an affinity with the Indigenous concepts of ‘Caring for Country’ and Kaitiakitanga (resource guardianship and stewardship).

Accordingly, the IEWG strives to:

  • Improve environmental management practice through collaboration, mutual learning and partnerships with Indigenous people and groups
  • Encourage practitioners to value and integrate Indigenous knowledge and practice into environmental management
  • Enhance career and networking opportunities for Indigenous people in the environment profession
  • Foster cultural awareness and reconciliation with First Nations people, consistent with international best practice and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The current IEWG comprises:

  • Alan Chenoweth: Australian Co-Chair
  • New Zealand Co-Chair (currently vacant)
  • Jon Womersley
  • Belinda Bastow
  • Helen Ross

We are actively seeking additional EIANZ members to join us. Contact us at if you wish to be involved.

An early priority was to revise the EIANZ Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct in 2020 to recognise Indigenous values and traditional knowledge, with accompanying Ethical Practice Guidance Notes. IEWG also drafted a Position Statement on Indigenous Peoples’ Knowledge and Engagement; arranged EIANZ webinars on First Nations culture and environmental management and facilitated two meetings of an Indigenous Practitioners Network.

In Australia, much of our energy over the past three years has been directed towards development and implementation of the EIANZ ‘Reflect’ Reconciliation Action Plan, through our RAP Implementation Group, which includes EIANZ members and Indigenous practitioners:

  • Alan Chenoweth (Interim Chair)

Divisional RAP Facilitators:

  • Julie Keane
  • Mitt Rambogin (WA)
  • Jon Womersley
  • Simon Leverton (Vic)
  • Belinda Bastow
  • Nathan English (FNQ)
  • Barry Hunter
  • Samantha Gadsby (Tas)
  • Toni Hay
  • Derrick Sowa (SA)
  • Stephen van Leeuwen
  • Harvey Martin

Become involved

Any members who would like to participate in the work of the IEWG and/or the RAP Implementation Group, including initiatives, events and liaison at Divisional and local level, are encouraged to contact Alan Chenoweth at the EIANZ Central Office.