Murujuga has one of the largest collections of engraved rock art anywhere in the world. The art is of cultural and spiritual significance to Aboriginal people, is on Australia’s National Heritage List and has recognised international heritage values. The Murujuga National Park (MNP) created in January 2013, recognises the cultural heritage value of the rock art and its environment and is owned by Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation who lease this back to the State who co-manage it. UWA aims to deliver a scientifically rigorous approach to research, monitoring and management that will provide an appropriate level of protection to the rock art. This research underpins significant impacts in the environment, society and industry and culture of Murujuga and the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Indigenous suicide is a significant population health challenge for Australia. Suicide is a major cause of Indigenous premature mortality and is a contributor to Indigenous health and life expectancy gaps. Two national projects undertaken by UWA researchers – the National Empowerment Project (NEP) and The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) – have contributed significantly to the knowledge base on how to address this health challenge and have influenced Government policy. These projects have increased awareness in community based and Indigenous led solutions, as well as informing policy changes at the Federal level.
Despite hardships endured, the Australian Aboriginal community remain one of the oldest surviving cultures on the planet. From the mid-19th century, photographs of Aboriginal people were taken for scientific purposes and were eventually archived in museums around the world. This culturally significant research reconnects families and country by bringing these lost ancestors home.
This team from UWA are exploring the Dampier Archipelago (Murujuga). What they have uncovered so far is astounding, and pushes back the known occupation of this place to before the Last Ice Age. It also contains an estimated one million engraved motifs of great scientific and cultural significance, an important part of understanding the human journey in Australia’s north-west. The Dampier Archipelago (Murujuga) is a National Heritage Listed place, contains heavy industry and is the traditional home of several Aboriginal groups.
Led by Peter Veth, Professor of Archaeology, the UWA team (the first to be granted permission to conduct a long-term heritage research project on Barrow Island) set out to establish how Australia was settled by Aboriginal people and what life was like. Celebrated amongst their findings was some of the earliest evidence of Aboriginal occupation of Australia (dating to approximately 50,000 years ago) anunique climatic records of Northern Australia and the discovery of some of the earliest human use of maritime resources east of Wallacea.