2020 ACCEL Distinguished Speaker Lecture: “First Law a gift to healing and transforming Just Us!”
2020 ACCEL Distinguished Speaker Address: “First Law a gift to healing and transforming Just Us!”
Speaker: Adjunct Professor Anne Poelina, Nyikina Warrwa Traditional Custodian
Dr Anne Poelina, Managing Director of Madjulla Inc., Chair of the Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council
Dr Poelina is a Nyikina Warrwa Traditional Custodian. She is an active Indigenous community leader, respected human and earth rights advocate, and filmmaker. Dr Poelina’s current work explores the entrepreneurial ‘New Economy’ opportunities for Indigenous people of the Martuwarra, Fitzroy River. Dr Poelina already holds a Doctor of Philosophy and is currently submitting her second doctoral thesis in the area of Health Science entitled ‘First Law and Justice: Land, Living Waters and Indigenous Peoples Wellbeing’. Dr Poelina was selected to participate in the 2011 Peter Cullen Trust Fellows leadership program and was recognised as a Laureate by the 2017 Women’s World Summit Foundation in Geneva. Dr Poelina is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Notre Dame (Nulungu Institute of Research) and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian National University including in the Water Justice Hub.
In a time of climate chaos and uncertainty, Dr Poelina combines First Law, Indigenous Science (traditional ecological knowledge), and the rights of nature as solutions for planetary health and human wellbeing. Her focus is on protecting her sacred National Heritage Listed Martuwarra Fitzroy River’s right to life from invasive developments. Threats from large-scale agriculture, fracking, and mining require extensive land clearing and water extraction. She believes our rivers are the lifeblood of our Nation, they have a right to live and flow.
“First Law a gift to healing and transforming Just Us!”
Dr Poelina’s presentation includes a short film, ‘Warloongarriy Law First Law’ (20mins). The presentation includes visual poetry to portray the meaning of ‘First Law’. Dr Poelina makes the connection between the beginning of the Anthropocene and the attempts of humans to dominate and control the natural environment through technological and economic advancement which have altered earth and human systems. There is a strong international consciousness that human activity has induced climate change which is quickly spiralling into climate chaos. As we move into 2021, the world’s earth systems are facing unprecedented risks pushing the planetary boundaries towards multi-species extinction and ultimate collapse. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2018) report contextualises the transformative changes needed to overcome the societal, economic, and legal challenges and biodiversity threats associated with climate change.
Dr Poelina and other Indigenous leaders globally are extending the gift of Indigenous First Law as a vital ingredient to give Mother Earth a climate chance. First Law stories as Indigenous Jurisprudence is one part of the collective wisdom, necessary to balance the planet, away from extinction. Together in a Law of Relationships between human and non-human beings, Indigenous people believe we can take these learnings of First Law to reframe legal regimes and an ethics of care. A shift holistically from individualism back to communityism, from the I to the We is needed! The challenge is to take the gift of First Law offered by Australia’s original peoples as ways of knowing and being to address planetary collapse. We need to consider healing and re-imagining transformation, and must begin with Just Us! First Law recognises that land and living waters are the source of the law and brings an inter-jurisdictional dimension to the field of Indigenous jurisprudence.
Webinar via Zoom, Wednesday 9 December, 6PM AEDT
You will receive a Zoom link closer to the day of the event.
This event is hosted by the Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law (ACCEL), which is affiliated to the Sydney Environment Institute (SEI.)
Banner images: Left: environskimberley.org.au; Right: The West Australian, photographer Mark Jones