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The Australian National University

Indigenous youth engagement in natural resource management in Australia and North America: A review

Working Paper 85 / 2012


With the continuing high levels of Indigenous youth unemployment and low levels of school attendance among Indigenous youth, Indigenous communities and education systems are seeking new approaches to increase Indigenous youth participation in education, training and employment. This priority among Indigenous and government stakeholders is not restricted to Australia but also applies internationally among many Indigenous peoples. One potential source of employment is the natural resources sector. This paper reviews the wide range of strategies currently being used to encourage Indigenous youth engagement in natural resource management as a way of achieving better educational outcomes and improving employment opportunities. Examples from Australia and North America are presented. These examples highlight the importance of both Indigenous knowledge and western science when developing suitable educational programs, and the role such programs can play in the intergenerational transmission of Indigenous knowledge. The review draws attention to the complexity involved in establishing clearly articulated pathways for Indigenous youth to enter and then retain employment in the natural resources sector and its management.

Keywords: Indigenous youth engagement, natural resource management, land and sea management, junior ranger programs, remote communities, Indigenous education policy, Indigenous knowledge, science education.

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