Author: Dr Anne Poelina

Author Dr Anne Poelina

Collective Wisdom for the Modern World​

Lower Mardoowarra - Fitzroy River

Dr Anne Poelina, Managing Director of Madjulla Incorporated, discusses her life and work.

My Australian Indigenous heritage is Nyikina Warrwa. We are the traditional custodians, guardians of the Lower Mardoowarra (Fitzroy River) in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia. We were given the rules for Warloongarriy Law from our ancestor Woonyoomboo. These rules guide how we as guardians manage our local areas of land and living waters in a deep relationship with nature between human and non-human beings. This is our first law!

As a young Indigenous person I was taught that to be a leader you must first be a leader of yourself. You must have values and ethics that support cooperation, unity, organisation and the inclusion of multiple world views in order to see and act in the world from multiple perspectives, thereby encouraging collective wisdom and participatory democracy. Moreover, it is important to be a lawful person by obeying the laws of the land.

From these teachings we are taught to be brave in order to be a 'good human being'. In order to be brave you must 'stand', which means be accountable for what you say and do both privately and publicly. Importantly, you must strive to reach your full potential as a human being, and in everything you do, you must do it to your best capacity.

This for me has meant two things. Firstly, having a hunger to learn as much as I can. Hence I originally began a career in nursing and shifted towards education. I believe education is a great tool for personal empowerment and community capacity building. I have gone on to acquire master’s degrees in education, public health and tropical medicine, and social policy with the completion of a doctor of philosophy. I am currently completing a doctor of health science degree. Secondly, we learn that we have a responsibility to help others to reach their full potential and to open doors and create opportunities for others to learn and share their learnings with others.

My current challenges include being a Director of 27,000 square kilometres of Nyikina and Mangala Native Title lands and waters. This work explores 'new economies' opportunities for Indigenous people in relation to green collar jobs in diverse science, culture, heritage and conservation economies. This requires championing the need to include traditional ecological knowledge and the rights of nature to the solutions for planetary health and wellbeing.

Dr Anne Poelina is Managing Director of Madjulla Incorporated. Dr Poelina is a Peter Cullen Fellow and Adjunct Research Fellow with Charles Darwin University, Northern Institute and Adjunct Senior Research Fellow with Notre Dame University Broome. Dr Poelina is a Nyikina Traditional Custodian from the Mardoowarra, Lower Fitzroy River, and Director of the Walalakoo Prescribed Body Corporate. Her current work explores the entrepreneurial opportunities for Indigenous people along the National Heritage Listed Fitzroy River in relation to green collar jobs in science, culture, heritage and conservation economies.​


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