Melanie’s research involved working with community members to explore their values and aspirations related to the governance and management of community resources. Community members shared their perspectives through interviews, focus groups, and a participatory painting workshop. Other consultations enabled Melanie to document the lessons learned in relation to co-management arrangements between the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, Traditional Owners, and government officials involved in coastal management. This learning translated into important opportunities for Traditional Owners to manage resources through programs like the Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and the national Indigenous Protected Areas program.
"I have benefitted tremendously from being able to pursue a Masters project tailored to my specific interests and ambitions. It has enabled me to be innovative in my approach and have an active role in shaping the direction of the research … the Rigby Trust provided me with the platform for this professional development.”
An important objective of the exploration was to foster linkages and “two-way flows of knowledge and experiences.” Following the overseas part of her research, Melanie used her experience to make connections with Canadian First Nation coastal communities around values and aspirations for coastal management. Melanie was able to return to Australia the following year to revisit Gurringun and continue her research. Melanie is currently doing her PhD at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba where she is considering how equitable cross-cultural partnerships can lead to learning and community reconciliation.