A proud Gomeroi man, Mr Phil Duncan, was awarded an honorary doctorate by Griffith University in recognition of his work protecting waterways and preserving Indigenous knowledge and education.
An Adjunct Industry Fellow with the Australian Rivers Institute and member of the Natural Resources Access Regulator’s (NRAR) independent board, Mr Duncan’s work was recognised at a graduation ceremony last week, where he was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of the University.
The award recognises Dr Duncan’s sustained contributions to national water policy and management and advocacy for greater respect and understanding of Aboriginal connections to water.
“Accepting this honorary doctorate is an extremely proud moment for my family and I and the people I work with to bring about change,” Dr Duncan said.
“In the Aboriginal world view, people and country, including lands, waterways, wetlands and seas, are independent entities that are intrinsically linked. We share a symbiotic relationship with our land and waters.
“I will continue to strive to increase the Aboriginal voices in environmental management and conservation.”
Professor Stuart Bunn of the Australian Rivers Institute said “Dr Duncan has collaborated with the ARI for well over a decade, supporting researchers and providing advice and guidance on major research initiatives.”
“We look forward to continuing our work together to improve the exchange of cultural and traditional knowledge on freshwater ecosystems between Indigenous people and western scientists, and to guide Indigenous capacity building in water research and management.”
With more than 30 years experience in water management and a deep connection to Australia’s Indigenous community Dr Duncan has provided strategic advice and leadership to key Indigenous organisations, universities, and state and federal government agencies.
Since 2020 Dr Duncan has served on NRAR’s government-appointed but independently operating board responsible for strategic decision-making, which helps to shape and change attitudes to water law compliance in NSW.
His understanding of community concerns and the cultural importance of water also made him the perfect candidate to serve as the chair of the Basin Community Committee of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
“Greater uptake of Indigenous knowledge, our cultural science, can benefit Australian society and Aboriginal people need to be involved in decision making that affects the natural environment,” Dr Duncan said.
“We need to be able to care for our country and be involved in repairing our country.”
The University also awarded honorary doctorates to other outstanding community leaders in former Commonwealth Games CEO Mark Peters OAM, Asian Film champion Dong Ho-Kim and First Nations leader Dr Pat Anderson AO