Community-focused research in Ourimbah

Photo Credit: Edwina Richards - Magenta Lilly Pilly

A community-focused project studying two threatened plant species was held at the Hidden Valley Farm in Ourimbah Creek Valley on Saturday, May 1.

The innovative workshop in the Ourimbah Creek Valley was run by a team of researchers from the University of Newcastle who partnered with the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program, and the Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council.

Ourimbah Valley has 46 threatened fauna species and 12 flora species. 

The workshop focused on the Magenta Lilly Pilly and the Tranquility Mintbush – two plants often found on private properties. 

The workshop included a walk to a significant tree specimen (which pre-dates European settlement) and a morning tea featuring indigenous bush foods.

People participated in a community art-making workshop where two artists guided them to making small sculptural components.

Senior Research Officer from the School of Creative Industries at the University of Newcastle, Chloe Killen, said the significance of this research project was to demonstrate how multiple modes of storytelling can help engage the community for positive change, more so than simply presenting dry facts about biodiversity.

“Does a more community approach to managing threatened species actual work? Can we get people who have never seen a plant…actually care about these things and take ownership of it,” Killen said.

“What kind of knowledge do these people actually have, and how can we empower everyone to be change agents in their own community.”

The idea of the project was to take a collaborative action-research based approach where everyone will learn and engage with each other, moving away from top-down power models. 

Jacinta Counihan