You are here

Indigenous Knowledge


Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Science Project (KISSP)

Other Details: 

Kimberley Marine Research Program: Project 1.5
Location: Kimberley region
Project Leader: Dean Mathews, Nyamba Buru Yawuru
Telephone: 9192 5600

Project Aims

  • Integrate Indigenous knowledge and management practices into Kimberley marine conservation and management.
  • Develop standard and agreed community process and protocols and a research agreement template to underpin marine research in the Kimberley and an implementation strategy to build awareness in the science community of the need for this engagement.
  • Develop a framework and protocols for standardising data collection, storage and analysis methodologies that can be used to monitor saltwater country across the Kimberley. This includes the development of a training package for agreed research targets for delivery to Rangers to develop internal capacity in these standardised techniques.

Final Reports, Tools and Training Package

Navigating Knowledge on Kimberley Saltwater Country - Synthesis Report

Module 1: Understanding How to Bring Knowledge Streams Together

Module 2: Guidelines for Collaborative Knowledge Work in Kimberley Saltwater Country

Module 3: Guide for Researchers

          Links to Kimberley Saltwater Country Research Proposal form:

Module 4: Regional Framework for Traditional Owners Monitoring Kimberley Saltwater Country

Module 5: Toolbox for Saltwater Monitoring in the Kimberley (Toolbox database)

Module 6: Pilot training package for Kimberley Indigenous Rangers: Monitoring for Management


Project Summary


During the planning stages, the project team identified three core areas of work required to address some of the current challenges experienced by both Kimberley researchers and saltwater managers around research activities. The project has been developed around these areas of work, described as three closely aligned core objectives. In short these are:

  1. Integrate Traditional Ecological Knowledge and management practices into Kimberley marine conservation and management (led by Dr Beau Austin of the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Darwin)
  2. With Kimberley Prescribed Body Corporate[1] and Indigenous community members, develop a standard research protocol for land and sea research in the Kimberley (led by Gina Lincoln of Mosaic Environmental for the Kimberley Land Council, Broome)
  3. Develop a standard framework for marine monitoring in the Kimberley[2] with Indigenous ranger groups, (led by Rebecca Dobbs and Fiona Tingle of the Centre for Excellence in Natural Resource Management, University of Western Australia, Kununurra/Broome)

Project Methods

The methods to achieve these objectives will involve on-country meetings and workshops with Traditional Owners (TO). There will be three KISSP Working Group meetings to discuss cross-country issues and coordinate the project. There will also be seven on-country meetings (one with each community represented on the Working Group), coordinated by the Working Group representative from that country, with individual TO communities to facilitate their input into the project. To minimise project costs and the time commitment expected of TOs the meetings will be coordinated through the Working Group and jointly planned with all co-investigators to maximise outcomes from each meeting. 

The project will assess current information, processes, protocols and agreements that TO’s use to manage and undertake research on country. This information is contained within plans for Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs), Healthy Country Plans and other management plans. The co-investigators will build on this with TO groups in order to develop clarity and shared understanding of priority values and research targets across the Kimberley. This will inform the development of research and engagement protocols and templates, monitoring methodologies and the training package. The co-investigators will work together to develop clear processes for gathering information during the on-country meetings and seek endorsement of these from the KISSP working group prior to the meetings taking place.

Location for the project

Kimberley region, but involving the sea country and participation of the Wunambal Gaambera, Balangarra, Dambimangari, Bardi Jawi, Nyul Nyul, Yawuru and Karajarri people.

Project duration:  2015-2017

Research Articles

Austin B, Robinson C, Mathews D, Oades D, Wiggin A, Dobbs R, Lincoln G, Garnettt S. (2019) An Indigenous-Led Approach for Regional Knowledge Partnerships in the Kimberley Region of Australia. Human Ecology


Austin B et al. Navigating knowledge currents in Kimberley Saltwater Country 2017 WAMSI Research Conference (audio) Presentation slides

Matthews D, Wiggin A. Invited Speaker – People and Saltwater Country in the Kimberley.  2017 WAMSI Research Conference (Video presentation) Presentation slides pdf


(Video of combined presentations below)

Austin B. Using a Multiple Evidence Based approach to mobilise Indigenous knowledge and science. 2017 WAMSI Research Conference

Munro J. Using social values to inform marine spatial planning. 2017 WAMSI Research Conference  Presentation slides

Matthews D. Invited speakers – Working together on country for healthy country and MPA management. 2017 WAMSI Research Conference  Presentation slides pdf

Dobbs R, Wiggin A. A Regional Framework for Saltwater Monitoring in the Kimberley. 2017 WAMSI Research Conference Presentation slides pdf

Oades D, Field S. The Kimberley Marine Rseearch Program. AMSA 2017 Indigneous Workshop slides


Overviewing a new (draft) process for land & sea research on Kimberley saltwater Country Developed through the Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Science Project 2016-2017 Presented by Gina Lincoln, Mosaic Environmental on behalf of the Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Science (KISSP) working group. (April 11, 2017) Presentation slides


WAMSI Lunch and Learn Seminar- Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Science – Thursday, 30 November 17, 12:00-1:00, Kensington Presentation slides


Indigenous partners in the Kimberley – a new guide for researchers (WAMSI Bulletin May 2017)

Kimberley moves on integrating Traditional Knowledge and science (WAMSI Bulletin December 2017)


Above: Map showing the Aboriginal Corporations and Indigenous Ranger Groups partnering in the Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Science Project - KISSP (courtesy of the Kimberley Land Council, 2016)


[1] Prescribed Body Corporates are representative bodies established for each Native Title determination. Read more about them here

[2] A sub-project attached to Objective 3 is the development of a pilot training package for Indigenous Ranger groups around one selected saltwater monitoring methodology.