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Cultural Connections Key to AMRRIC Programs

AMRRIC Board members Christine Ross and Ted Donelan presenting at ISAZ2018

The theme of the 27th International Conference of the International Society of Anthrozoology was "Animals in Our Lives: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Human–Animal Interactions".

AMRRIC Board members Christine Ross and Ted Donelan gave a plenary presentation at this conference titled "Cultural connections: Understanding the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and animals, and the implications for delivery of dog health and community wellbeing programs in these communities.”

Drawing on their lived experiences, this collaborative conversation between Christine Ross, an Arrernte/Kaytetye woman from Alice Springs NT and Dr Ted Donelan, an Australian-born Anglo-Celtic male veterinarian with decades of experience in animal management and the human-animal bond,explored and explained the cultural background, complexity, sophistication, immediacy and ongoing nature of these relationships with animals. 

The health and welfare of animals in remote communities is inextricably linked to the health and wellbeing of people in those communities.  The management of these animal populations and the ways in which people and animals interact in these communities presents additional complexities compared to urban Australian society. This results from a range of factors including not only the tyranny of distance, lack of infrastructure and access to services and facilities, but also traditional cultural attitudes towards animals and animal behaviour, and the role of animals in communities.

The unique world view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was explained and explored, with particular emphasis on how relationships with animals are an integral part of the fabric of their societies and culture.

The presentation described the very real problems relating to animal health and welfare, nuisance, and public health and safety that arise when there is a lack of animal management and control and little access to products and services. There was a discussion of the implications of the practical and cultural considerations that are critical to the success of programs designed to address these problems.

There was a particular focus on the culturally appropriate, community based approach employed by AMRRIC to address these issues, including the positive results that have been achieved.

The presentation was very well received, with many positive comments about AMRRIC’s work. Delegates said they found it a revealing insight into a world previously unknown to them.  Subsequent conversations have resulted in valuable networking, contacts being made and requests for presentations at other conferences.

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