The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) is combining Indigenous and Western science to create a new unit to its Biochemistry of Nutrition course, incorporating native Australian vegetation knowledge and emphasising Indigenous food and bush medicine.
The new unit will integrate teach students the value of local knowledge, Biomedical Science lecturer Dr Sarah Myer said.
“We’re exploring native Australian plants because they have so much vital nutritional value and significant bush medicine components that we need to learn about and the students need to know,” Myer said.
“At our Toowoomba campus, we’re additionally supported in providing this education thanks to the Gumbi Gumbi Gardens.”
The University of Southern Queensland’s Elder in Residence, Uncle Wayne Fossey, hosted the first guest lecture for the new unit at the Gumbi Gumbi Gardens this month.
The Gardens were designed in close partnership with respected elders from Toowoomba and elders of the Jarowair people. They feature more than 100 plant species, including an extensive array of Indigenous flora used by local Aboriginal communities for a range of purposes.
“The Gumbi Gumbi Gardens are a very special place that offer lots of places to gather, look at astronomy, plants and the interrelationship between plants and animals,” Fossey said.
“All our plants, above and below the ground, need to be looked at in terms of future food sources because we know that the mass agriculture in Australia isn’t the whole picture. We’ve got the opportunity to put some of this knowledge into courses that look at the biochemistry of food, the ecology and management side of food, and the future of native forests.
“The interrelationship of our plants is important, and the relationship between us and our plants and our connectedness are important too. I’m proud to be able to play my part in sharing this knowledge with students who will go on to work in our health industry.”