Examining the role of circular economy in community partnerships and development: A Northern Territory mining study

Project: Research

Project Details


The challenge of sustained engagement and partnership with Indigenous groups and institutions has become increasingly apparent in recent years1. Today, companies routinely use external thinking tools (ETTs) (e.g., Visual Landpro 2000, iSAPP, Pandell landWorks) to solve consultation challenges that were once solved internally: a behaviour termed cognitive offloading. Fundamental to meeting that challenge is how to mitigate the damage to consultations caused by ETTs in a way that is likely to be considered fair by Aboriginal groups, thereby ensuring sustainable partnerships into the future. Over the last decades, particularly following the COVID-19, companies have relied more on ETTs to combat consultation challenges. They are becoming the new norm across resource companies2. The question that remains is how can we enhance indigenous consultations and maintain the human elements in such processes?

Aboriginal groups have strong cultural ties to both land and water. With their unparalleled knowledge of these historic resources as their home, Aboriginal Land Councils in the Northern Territory rely on their cognitive strengths to manage traditional lands. The cognitive status of Indigenous groups is critical in protecting their historical resources by incorporating local views in crafting more successful and inclusive plans for traditional lands and water sources3. Despite such considerable benefits of cognitive elements in Indigenous beliefs and actions, it is astonishing how little focus has been given to the role cognition can play in solving Indigenous consultation challenges. Thus, our current understanding of how cognitive factors mediate corporate ETTs is very narrow and does not reflect their functionality in current consultation processes. Research, including mine, can demonstrate how understanding Aboriginal cognitive status in consultation is a critical pathway to an equitable and sustainable relationship.

Project Aim
Aim 1 -Chart the processes underlying companies' use of ETTs, and uncover the associated benefits and harms to consultations.

Aim 2 – Develop a model that characterises how cognitive-based processing combines to determine what constitutes fairness to Aboriginal groups in consultation processes

Aim 3 – Develop and test a cognitive-based hybrid model to understand what mechanisms are effective to overcome conflicting cultures in Indigenous consultation arrangements and successfully build healthy relationships.
Effective start/end date30/11/211/12/23


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