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Cavanagh, Vanessa I. Ms

Associate Lecturer

  • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • School of Geography and Sustainable Communities

Overview


I'm a proud Bundjalung and Wonnarua Aboriginal person from NSW, Australia. My research interests are in Australian Indigenous Geographies. 
I have over a decade of experience in state government environmental management specifically with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage in its Joint-management unit, Cultural Heritage division and National Park operational group. In addition to that I have worked in the corporate sector as the project manager of the Georges River Aboriginal Riverkeeper Team.
I've recently embarked into a PhD which will explore Aboriginal women's engagement in cultural burning practices in NSW. My PhD supervisors are Associate Professor Michael Adams, and Dr Laura Hammersley.

Top Publications


    Year Title
    2008 Bush lemons and beach hauling: evolving traditions and new thinking for protected areas management and Aboriginal people in New South Wales

Selected Publications


  • Journal Article

    Year Title
    2016

    Published In
    Australian Indigenous Law Review
    Volume
    19
    Pages
    45 - 63
    ISSN
    1835-0186
  • Chapter

    Year Title
    2008

    Published In
    Protecting Country: Indigenous Governance and Management of Protected Areas
    Publisher
    Canberra: AIATSIS
    Pages
    31 - 45
    ISBN
    9780855756680
    Edition
    1
  • Conference Paper

    Year Title
    2018

    Published In
    Restore, Regenerate, Revegetate: A Conference on Restoring Ecological processes, Ecosystems and landscapes in a Changing World
    Pages
    19 - 20
    2017

    Published In
    Australian Society for Limnology Conference
    2016

    Published In
    Proceedings of the 8th Australian Stream Management Conference
    Pages
    141 - 148

Presentations


Impact Story


  • <p>I am trained as a geographer: geo-grapher, earth-writer. In 2017 my lyric essay on freediving, grief and loss, ‘<a href="https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/abr-online/current-issue/4100-2017-calibre-essay-prize-winner-salt-blood" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Salt Blood’</a> won the <a href="https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/prizes-programs/calibre-prize" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Calibre Essay Prize</a>. This work connects an intimate personal story with reflection on our place in the world. It has been showcased in a <em>TEDx</em> <em>Wollongong</em> talk (2018); an interview on Richard Fidler’s national ABC <em>Conversations</em> podcast (2017, ~200,000 downloads); and numerous radio and print media interviews. The work was included in two national ‘best of’ collections in 2017: <em><a href="https://www.blackincbooks.com.au/books/best-australian-essays-2017" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Best Australian Essays 2017</a></em>; <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-michael-adams-rpt/9233856" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ABC <em>Conversations Best of 2017</em></a>. The essay itself has been downloaded by readers more than 20,000 times.</p><p>Reflection on the privilege of my learning from Indigenous and vernacular communities led me to research on nature and the human search for meaning. This approach, using deeply personal immersion research expressed in innovative forms, enables open and creative communication with broad public and specialist audiences. I use ethnographic and immersion research to study hunting and death, animals and the sacred, freediving and loss, and connections to place. Insights in all of these areas underscore my debt to Indigenous teachers. While I also publish in conventional academic formats, it is narrative non-fiction and other creative writing that has significantly extended my research impact and engagement.</p><p>My work ranges from global environment and heritage policy to personal and autoethnographic analysis. Impacts consequently embrace the specifics of detailed conservation policy through to contributing to national public cultural conversations. Much of my work has been collaborative with Indigenous and other local communities, conducted in partnership with other researchers, government agencies and NGOs in Australia, Sweden and India. Since 2001, my research has provided evidence of the critical importance of Indigenous relationships to environment in responding to Australian and international environmental challenges. This research has raised awareness and influenced public, agency and academic understanding of issues spanning the recognition of Indigenous culture and rights, to nuanced approaches to grief and loss, and their linked significance.</p><p>My analyses and recommendations on environment policy highlight the unique contribution and relevance of vernacular and Indigenous knowledges and practices, and the social and environmental justice aspects of that recognition. Developed from previous professional work in national park agencies, environment NGOs and Aboriginal organisations, this research has raised awareness with conservation managers, Indigenous leaders and the public. These team projects have had practical outcomes including delineating the precise boundaries of national parks (Cape York 2002); influencing park policy on Aboriginal burning (Uluru 2014); influencing state government policy on Aboriginal land claims (NSW NPWS 2001); and developing international best practice on Indigenous approaches to conservation (<em>IUCN</em> 2011, <em>World Parks Congress</em> 2014).</p>

Education And Training


  • B Science (Hon) in B.Sc (Hons (Class I)) Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, The NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act and the Bundjalung Aboriginal Nation

Teaching Overview


  • 2016 - Subject Coordinator GEOG123 Indigenous Geography, Contesting Country at UOW

Top Publications


    Year Title
    2008 Bush lemons and beach hauling: evolving traditions and new thinking for protected areas management and Aboriginal people in New South Wales

Selected Publications


  • Journal Article

    Year Title
    2016

    Published In
    Australian Indigenous Law Review
    Volume
    19
    Pages
    45 - 63
    ISSN
    1835-0186
  • Chapter

    Year Title
    2008

    Published In
    Protecting Country: Indigenous Governance and Management of Protected Areas
    Publisher
    Canberra: AIATSIS
    Pages
    31 - 45
    ISBN
    9780855756680
    Edition
    1
  • Conference Paper

    Year Title
    2018

    Published In
    Restore, Regenerate, Revegetate: A Conference on Restoring Ecological processes, Ecosystems and landscapes in a Changing World
    Pages
    19 - 20
    2017

    Published In
    Australian Society for Limnology Conference
    2016

    Published In
    Proceedings of the 8th Australian Stream Management Conference
    Pages
    141 - 148

Presentations


Impact Story


  • <p>I am trained as a geographer: geo-grapher, earth-writer. In 2017 my lyric essay on freediving, grief and loss, ‘<a href="https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/abr-online/current-issue/4100-2017-calibre-essay-prize-winner-salt-blood" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Salt Blood’</a> won the <a href="https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/prizes-programs/calibre-prize" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Calibre Essay Prize</a>. This work connects an intimate personal story with reflection on our place in the world. It has been showcased in a <em>TEDx</em> <em>Wollongong</em> talk (2018); an interview on Richard Fidler’s national ABC <em>Conversations</em> podcast (2017, ~200,000 downloads); and numerous radio and print media interviews. The work was included in two national ‘best of’ collections in 2017: <em><a href="https://www.blackincbooks.com.au/books/best-australian-essays-2017" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Best Australian Essays 2017</a></em>; <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-michael-adams-rpt/9233856" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ABC <em>Conversations Best of 2017</em></a>. The essay itself has been downloaded by readers more than 20,000 times.</p><p>Reflection on the privilege of my learning from Indigenous and vernacular communities led me to research on nature and the human search for meaning. This approach, using deeply personal immersion research expressed in innovative forms, enables open and creative communication with broad public and specialist audiences. I use ethnographic and immersion research to study hunting and death, animals and the sacred, freediving and loss, and connections to place. Insights in all of these areas underscore my debt to Indigenous teachers. While I also publish in conventional academic formats, it is narrative non-fiction and other creative writing that has significantly extended my research impact and engagement.</p><p>My work ranges from global environment and heritage policy to personal and autoethnographic analysis. Impacts consequently embrace the specifics of detailed conservation policy through to contributing to national public cultural conversations. Much of my work has been collaborative with Indigenous and other local communities, conducted in partnership with other researchers, government agencies and NGOs in Australia, Sweden and India. Since 2001, my research has provided evidence of the critical importance of Indigenous relationships to environment in responding to Australian and international environmental challenges. This research has raised awareness and influenced public, agency and academic understanding of issues spanning the recognition of Indigenous culture and rights, to nuanced approaches to grief and loss, and their linked significance.</p><p>My analyses and recommendations on environment policy highlight the unique contribution and relevance of vernacular and Indigenous knowledges and practices, and the social and environmental justice aspects of that recognition. Developed from previous professional work in national park agencies, environment NGOs and Aboriginal organisations, this research has raised awareness with conservation managers, Indigenous leaders and the public. These team projects have had practical outcomes including delineating the precise boundaries of national parks (Cape York 2002); influencing park policy on Aboriginal burning (Uluru 2014); influencing state government policy on Aboriginal land claims (NSW NPWS 2001); and developing international best practice on Indigenous approaches to conservation (<em>IUCN</em> 2011, <em>World Parks Congress</em> 2014).</p>

Education And Training


  • B Science (Hon) in B.Sc (Hons (Class I)) Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, The NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act and the Bundjalung Aboriginal Nation

Teaching Overview


  • 2016 - Subject Coordinator GEOG123 Indigenous Geography, Contesting Country at UOW
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