Future Dreaming – Australian Earth Laws Alliance

Return to Our Programs

Future Dreaming

Earth Jurisprudence (or ‘Ecological Jurisprudence’, or ‘Earth laws’) is an emerging legal theory, and growing social movement, which aims to catalyse a shift in law from human-centeredness to a recognition of our interconnectedness with the wider Earth community. It draws deep inspiration from Earth-centred cultural traditions and governance systems of indigenous peoples around the world.

AELA is committed to working in partnership with people from Australia’s First Nations.  We pay our respects to all the First Nations peoples and to Elders past and present who, for millennia, have been stewards of the land now called Australia.

Our program ‘Future Dreaming’ aims to offer a space for non-Indigenous and Indigenous people to work together, as equal partners, in a respectful spirit of cross cultural learning and sharing.   We believe that it is only by working together that we can create the unique, Earth-centred governance systems that will help us build a healthy, long-term relationship with the Earth community.

Future Dreaming is an ‘umbrella’ program for the following types of projects and activities:

Cross cultural learning and sharing

We aim to promote a range of Indigenous-owned cultural tours and learning programs to AELA members and friends over the coming years.  We're committed to ensuring that non-Indigenous professionals and interested people can learn about and support Indigenous communities' and their projects.

Working together to create innovative Earth governance projects

AELA is interested in working with Indigenous groups to use the western legal system to better support Indigenous peoples' aspirations.

We have been inspired by the ground-breaking legal agreements created by Maori groups in New Zealand, where they have combined traditional Maori cultural obligations with western legal structures, to achieve greater recognition of cultural connections to country, and new ways of recognising the rights of the natural world to exist, thrive and evolve.  Find out more information about these innovative Earth governance approaches.

Supporting and promoting traditional and contemporary indigenous knowledge – including hosting collaborative events

AELA is keen to work with Indigenous communities to promote the importance of traditional knowledge and wisdom in relation to caring for country.  We see this as an important way to support social justice for Indigenous communities, and to ensure non-Indigenous people better understand Indigenous people’s connection to country.

Here are examples of some of our projects:

  • In October 2016, AELA will be hosting Australia's first Rights of Nature Tribunal, and the first case to be heard will be presented by traditional custodians of the Mardoowarra/Fitzroy River (WA).  This case will include claims that the River must have its legal rights recognised, in accordance with the traditional custodians’ ‘first laws’ and the rights of nature. Read more information about the Tribunal.
  • In 2015, AELA interviewed indigenous custodians of the land and sea country of the Great Barrier Reef and sent a 10 minute video showing indigenous concerns about the Reef to the International Rights of Nature Tribunal which was held in conjunction with the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris.  Read more about the International Tribunal.
  •  AELA is building a small, high quality list of publicly available articles, books, courses, documentaries, films and other material about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage, and land and sea management.  We will only access and promote publicly available material, approved by the relevant indigenous communities to share with non-indigenous people.  More information about our online library will be available soon.

AELA’s Indigenous Advisory Group

AELA has created an Indigenous Advisory Group, so that we can work with and seek guidance from indigenous people about all of our work, including the Future Dreaming program.  Members so far include:

  • Ross Williams, Bindal/Juru Elder of Bowen to Townsville region
  • Marie Kemp, Ghungalu community, Central Queensland
  • Margaret Kemp, Ghungalu community, Central Queensland
  • Other members of the advisory group will be confirmed soon

For more information – or to share your ideas

If you would like more information about the activities planned within our ‘Future Dreaming’ program, or you have your own ideas and projects you’d like to tell us about – please contact: convenor@earthlaws.org.au   We’d really love to hear from you!

Future Dreaming’s office Christmas Party, 2005

Future Dreaming’s office Christmas Party, 2005

 From 2002 to 2007, an independent, not for profit indigenous community development organisation called ‘Future Dreaming’ ran innovative cross cultural, cultural heritage and community development projects in Central Queensland.  Three of the original founders of this organisation are now involved in AELA’s “Future Dreaming” program:  AELA’s National Convenor, Michelle Maloney, and Ghungalu community leaders Marie and Margaret Kemp, who have now joined AELA’s Indigenous Advisory Group.