Eddie Mabo’s native title claim changed the foundation of this nation’s land and sea law by proving that First Nations people had, through interconnecting social and ecological knowledge systems, lived sustainably and harmoniously on country for millennia.

Join Indigenous systems ecologist Chels Marshall and facilitator Dr Mariko Smith to discuss how deep cultural knowledge not only overturned the legal fiction of terra nullius but may help reverse the damaging effects of 200 years of Eurocentric land and sea management practice into the future.

*Members attending a Lunchtime Conversation are invited to the Members Lounge on the day, to enjoy some light complimentary afternoon tea at 1.30-2.30pm.

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Please be advised that some sessions of the Lunchtime Conversation Series are being recorded by ABC Radio. The audio recordings will be broadcast on Speaking Out.


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Single tickets: Member $24, Non-member $35, Concession $31.50



Season Pack (6 talks): Member $144, Non-member $180, Concession $162.



Before purchasing your tickets, please refer to the Australian Museum Ticket Terms and Conditions here.


Chels Marshall

Chels Marshall

Chels Marshall is a Gumbaynggirr woman and a Traditional owner from the Baga Baga/Ngambaa Clan - Janingbirriny (Northern NSW Australia).

She has extensive experience in environmental science and management and has completed a PhD on traditional knowledge systems and climate change in the Pacific, with the School of Asia Pacific Affairs - International Governance at the Australian National University. She currently holds a Masters in Marine Science and Management at the National Marine Science Centre/University of New England on Spatial Analysis of Indigenous Marine Associations in Gumbaynggirr Nation. Chels also has degrees in Wildlife Management and Cultural Resource Management.

Chels has worked in Commonwealth Indigenous Protected Areas for the last 9 years, implementing cultural ecological knowledge and science frameworks to daily protected area management. Chels also facilitates Creating virtual and physical environments for sharing knowledge through art, science and Indigenous frameworks.


Dr Mariko Smith

Mariko Smith - Assistant Curator, First Nations, MEE
Mariko Smith - Assistant Curator, First Nations. Museum Experience & Exhibitions. Image: Abram Powell
© Australian Museum

Dr Mariko Smith is a Yuin woman with Japanese heritage. She undertakes an interdisciplinary practice which encompasses museology, contemporary art, visual sociology, research methodology, epistemology, and history. Mariko has worked in the museum and tertiary sectors in Sydney, specialising in Aboriginal cultural heritage, community-based cultural resurgence projects, and incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing into museum and artistic practices.

She has a PhD from the University of Sydney (Department of Sociology & Social Policy) in Aboriginal tied-bark canoe making practice through cultural resurgence, which utilised documentary photography and photo elicitation interviewing. Mariko is the First Nations Assistant Curator at the Australian Museum and also an Honorary Associate in the School of Literature, Art & Media at the University of Sydney.


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