Return to Our Programs

Future Dreaming

Earth 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 First Nations Peoples.  We pay our respects to all the First Nations Peoples and to Elders past and present who, for millennia, have sustainably managed the land and sea country of the continent 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:

  • Collaborative projects promoting Earth centred governance

    • AELA is passionate about building a future for Australia that is Earth centred, built on respect for First Nations Peoples and guided by First Nations Peoples knowledge and wisdom about Caring for Country.  In 2018 and 2019, AELA's National Convenor, Dr Michelle Maloney, is working with Mary Graham, an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Queensland and Kombumerri First Nations person, to write a book called "Future Law: How Ancient and Emerging Ecological Law Can Form a Foundation for the Future".  The goal of the book is to promote First Nations wisdom in Australia and overseas, as well as show the practical possibilities of Earth jurisprudence
    • In 2018, AELA is hosting its second Peoples Tribunal for the Rights of Nature, which will feature indigenous food systems experts such as Bruce Pascoe and other Panel members and speakers. 
  • Cross cultural learning and sharing

  • Supporting First Nations Peoples' projects and aspirations

    •  AELA provides governance support for, and ongoing capacity building support to, indigenous groups who are creating new organisations or projects and who seek legal, governance and other support.
    • One of our long term partnerships is with Jina-Gunduy, who are building a Sustainability Hub on Palm Island
    • AELA is also 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.

Current and past projects

  •  In 2018 and 2019, AELA's National Convenor, Dr Michelle Maloney, is working with Mary Graham, an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Queensland and Kombumerri First Nations person, to write a book called "Future Law: How Ancient and Emerging Ecological Law Can Form a Foundation for the Future".  The goal of the book is to promote First Nations wisdom in Australia and overseas, as well as show the practical possibilities of Earth jurisprudence
  • In October 2018, AELA is hosting its second Peoples Tribunal for the Rights of Nature, which will examine the impacts of industrial scale agriculture on First Nations food systems, Australian ecosystems and contemporary communities in Australia.  The Tribunal will include First Nations People on the Tribunal Panel, as well as experts and people speaking for country.
  • In June 2018, AELA hosted a 4 day Earth Arts workshop for 20 non-indigenous artists, which included a day's session with Mary Graham, to increase the understanding of First Nations culture and wisdom by non-indigenous people.
  • In October 2016, AELA hosted Australia's first Peoples Tribunal for the Rights of Nature Rights of Nature Tribunal.  Tribunal Panelists included First Nations Peoples representatives Professor Irene Watson and Adjunct Associate Professor Mary Graham, and included a case presented by traditional custodians of the Mardoowarra/Fitzroy River (WA).  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’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:

  • Mary Graham, Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Queensland and Kombumerri Person
  • Ross Williams, Bindal/Juru Elder of Bowen to Townsville region
  • Dr Anne Poelina, Managing Director of Madjulla Inc.; a Nyikina Traditional Custodian from the Mardoowarra, Lower Fitzroy River in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia; and an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow with Notre Dame University
  • Valentine Nona, Djiru Aboriginal Community and Director, Jina-Gunduy

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 helped create AELA’s “Future Dreaming” program:  AELA’s National Convenor, Michelle Maloney, and Ghungalu community leaders Marie and Margaret Kemp.