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Future Dreaming

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

AELA is inspired by Earth jurisprudence and First Nations Peoples' culture and governance systems.  AELA is committed to working in partnership with First Nations Peoples.  AELA acknowledges that the sovereignty of the First Nations People of the continent now known as Australia was never ceded by treaty nor in any other way. AELA acknowledges and respects First Nations Peoples’ laws and ecologically sustainable custodianship of Australia over tens of thousands of years through land and sea management practices that continue today.

In 2019, AELA worked to auspice the creation of 'Future Dreaming Australia', a new organisation managed by Indigenous and non-indigenous partners, to offer a space for Indigenous Peoples and non-indigenous people, to work together, as equal partners, in a respectful spirit of cross cultural learning and sharing. Future Dreaming's goal is  to assist cross cultural understanding of Indigenous frameworks and practices for Caring for Country, as well as sharing information about emerging Earth centred law and governance in Western legal systems. We believe that it is only by working together that we can create unique, Earth-centred governance systems that will help us build a healthy, long-term relationship with the Earth community.

Visit our new Future Dreaming Australia website here.

Upcoming events hosted by AELA and Future Dreaming:

  • "Connecting to Place, Caring for Country" – Online workshops (1pm to 4.30pm), hosted on the following dates:
    • April – Saturday 25th
    • May – Tuesday 26th
    • June – Saturday 20th
    • July – Tuesday 14th

      Please visit the webinar page for further information


Other events and activities co-hosted by AELA and Future Dreaming:

  • 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. 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 Australia.
  • Cross cultural learning and sharing

  • Supporting First Nations Peoples' projects and aspirations

    •  AELA and Future Dreaming can provide 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 manage Indigenous Knowledge, Maritime and Sustainability projects from their hub on Palm Island, in Far North Queensland.
    • AELA and Future Dreaming are also interested in working with Indigenous groups to use the western legal system to better support Indigenous peoples' objectives. 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.

Past projects and events

  • Workshop - "Connecting to Place, Caring for Country". On 12th March 2020 we hosted a workshop which focused on how human relationships with the living world can form a foundation for broader societal change and governance stability. By bringing together Aboriginal philosophy and law, with Western critiques of the current governance system, the workshop explored how ancient and emerging place-based approaches can offer an effective, practical, compassionate and successful future for Australia.
  • Peace and Stability Dialogue Series, 2019 - AELA and Future Dreaming are co-hosting an innovative, multi-year "Peace and Stability Dialogue Series", led by Mary Graham, Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Queensland and Kombumerri person.  The Dialogue Series will feature a range of events and publications over the next four years. The first event was held on 21st November 2019, and further events are being planned for 2020 and 2021.
  • Peoples' Tribunal 2018. In October 2018, AELA hosted its second Peoples' Tribunal for Community and Nature's Rights, which examined the impacts of industrial scale agriculture on First Nations food systems, Australian ecosystems and contemporary communities in Australia.  The Tribunal was led by First Nations People on the Tribunal Panel, as well as experts and people speaking for country.
  • Earth Arts. 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.
  • Peoples' Tribunal 2016. In October 2016, AELA hosted the first Australian Peoples' Tribunal for Community and Nature's Rights. 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's work is guided by our Indigenous mentors and colleagues within Future Dreaming and on the AELA Board of Directors.

For more information – or to share your ideas

If you would like more information about the activities planned by AELA and Future Dreaming, or you have your own ideas and projects you’d like to tell us about – please contact:

Origins and History - Future Dreaming

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.  In 2013, three of the original founders of this organisation helped create AELA’s “Future Dreaming” program:   Ghungalu community leaders Marie and Margaret Kemp, and AELA’s National Convenor, Michelle Maloney.

In 2019, this revived program was reborn as a new, independent not-for-profit organisation - Future Dreaming Australia