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Curtin hosts new ARC training centre with a mission to heal country

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Australia’s first Indigenous Chair for Biodiversity and Environmental Science will lead a ground-breaking new Curtin University-based training centre that will drive a diversified Indigenous-led restoration economy.

Noted Australian botanical ecologist Professor Stephen van Leeuwen, from Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, will oversee the new Curtin-based Australian Research Council Training Centre for Healing Country, which will fuse Indigenous knowledge and traditional approaches with western science to rehabilitate and restore Country.

Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran congratulated Professor van Leeuwen, saying he looked forward to seeing the important work of the new ARC training centre.

“The ARC Training Centre for Healing Country will work to create and nourish an economy that supports healthy land and transforms Indigenous land management and restoration businesses into a major employer of on-Country regional jobs,” Professor Moran said.

“As the inaugural Chair for Biodiversity and Environmental Science, Professor van Leeuwen is leading significant research programs that promote excellence and innovation in the fields of biodiversity and environmental science through collaborative networks with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Professor van Leeuwen, a Noongar man with strong links to Country in the Busselton and Margaret River areas of south-west Western Australia, said the centre’s important work had a deep personal meaning.

“Indigenous Australians are intrinsically linked to our land, so if we can provide opportunities for Indigenous Australians to restore their Country while also offering business and employment prospects, that will make a real difference to everyone in those communities,” Professor van Leeuwen said.

“The ARC Training Centre for Healing Country will work to be a ground-breaking on-Country capability, employment and business development training centre for Indigenous Australians.

“The centre will aim to achieve cost-effective restoration solutions that grow and strengthen Indigenous enterprises, expand and bolster diverse training pathways, and conduct innovative research to support the advancement of a diversified Indigenous-led restoration economy.”

The new centre was announced as part of the Federal Government’s funding of the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Program (ITRP) to support eight new ARC research hubs and eight new ARC Training Centres to be led by Australian universities and involve significant collaborations with industry.

For more information about the ARC ITRP, visit here.

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