Cross-cultural Connections - Taiwan and Japan

In June 2023, Dr Kristen Smith, Levi Murray and Dr Trent Ryan from the Indigenous Studies Unit from the University of Melbourne embarked on a transformative journey as international delegates alongside the Indigenous Knowledge Institute. Their travels took them through Taiwan and Japan, where they had the privilege of meeting and engaging with several indigenous communities. The purpose of the trip was to foster cross-cultural connections, exchange knowledge, and explore indigenous perspectives on various topics.

Taiwan Akawyan Pakawyan

Throughout their visit to Taiwan, the Indigenous Studies Unit met with Tsou, Saisiat, Paiwan, Puyuma, and Amis peoples representatives. These meetings provided valuable insights into the diverse cultures, histories, and challenges these indigenous communities face. Professor Barry Judd, the Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Director of Indigenous Studies, and Professor Aaron Corn led the discussions.

One of the highlights of their time in Taiwan was the meeting with Akawyan Pakawyan, a prominent Puyuma leader who will deliver the upcoming Narrm Oration, an annual event held by the University of Melbourne. The Narrm Oration serves as a platform to showcase the ideas and experiences of leading Indigenous peoples worldwide, enriching the discourse on future possibilities for Indigenous Australia. The word "Narrm" comes from the Woi Wurrung language and refers to the Melbourne region.

Following their time in Taiwan, the Indigenous Studies Unit travelled to Japan, where they engaged with the Ainu people. Collaborating with the University of Hokkaido, the University of Melbourne organized a successful week-long joint research workshop titled "Living Cultures in a Global World: Indigenous Knowledge." The Workshop aimed to explore indigenous perspectives on various aspects of life, focusing on well-being, community-based approaches, and the social determinants of health.

Japan DFAT June 23

The Indigenous Studies Unit team delivered two presentations during the Hokkaido University Workshop, one focusing on the Indigenous Data Network projects on Tuesday, June 27, and the second on ONEMDA: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Well-being on Thursday, June 29th, building upon previous discussions surrounding indigenous health issues. Professor Richard Chenhall, also presented on the social determinants of Indigenous health, health equity, and social justice on Thursday, 29 June. These presentations, emanating from the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, received acclaim from the international audience for their valuable insights and contributions.

The trip undertaken by the Indigenous Studies Unit throughout Taiwan and Japan in June 2023 proved to be a significant endeavour in fostering cross-cultural understanding and collaboration. The University of Melbourne contributed to the global conversation on Indigenous Knowledge and well-being by engaging with indigenous peoples and scholars. The experiences and connections made during this journey will have a lasting impact on the Indigenous Studies Unit and its ongoing commitment to supporting Indigenous communities and promoting their health and well-being.

Additionally, during their visits, the Indigenous Studies Unit had the honor of representing ONEMDA at a formal lunch and delegation hosted at the Australian Embassy in Japan and a meeting at the Australian Residence, at the Australian Office in Taipei, Taiwan. This provided an opportunity to showcase the important work being done by ONEMDA in promoting the well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The engagement with the Australian Embassy further emphasized the significance of cross-cultural collaborations and the recognition of Indigenous knowledge and perspectives on a global scale.

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Levi Murray