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Title: Engaging Stakeholder Participation to Improve Animal Management in a Remote Australian Aboriginal Community
Contributor(s): Kennedy, Brooke Pauline Amber  (author); Brown, Wendy  (supervisor)orcid ; Butler, James  (supervisor); Vernes, Karl  (supervisor)orcid 
Conferred Date: 2021-12-08
Copyright Date: 2021
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Animal management in remote Aboriginal communities is a complex issue, but is crucial for communities to be safe for pets, people and wildlife. There are high numbers of owned freeroaming dogs and increasing populations of companion cats in remote Aboriginal communities in Australia, that have an impact on their own health and that of the humans who live in close contact with them. These issues have been discussed in the literature, but no processes have been designed to improve the way researchers conduct animal management research in Australian Aboriginal communities. Many stakeholders are involved in animal management in remote Aboriginal communities in Australia (rAcs) and there are many considerations that must be addressed when developing a solution. The frames in which people and their disputants view a conflict, play an important role in conflicts. Frame divergence often contributes to the intractability of conflicts by impeding change, therefore it is important to know where people stand on an issue for manageability. Therefore, this project designed the CoMM4Unity (Cycle of Multiple Methods for Unity—For Community) approach. to address the complex issue of animal management and tested this approach in the community of Wurrumiyanga, Tiwi Islands.

Step one of the approach, “what is the issue?” was tested and successfully determined the main issues regarding companion animal management in Wurrumiyanga. Using stakeholder participation, Frame Analysis was used to discover the identity, knowledge and power of each stakeholder group, along with not only how they fit into the animal management frame but also how they see other stakeholder groups in the same frame. The results revealed four stakeholder groups; Indigenous Locals (IL), Indigenous Rangers (IR) Non-Indigenous Locals (NIL) and Animal Managers (AM). These groups shared overlapping opinions that dog overpopulation was the main animal management issue in their community, however, opinions in the way this issue should be managed differed in strength among the groups. The knowledge and power of these groups were opposing, and may shed light on why there seems to be a conflict rather than a misalignment of goals.

Step two of the approach, “what are the systemic causes of the main issue?” was tested and successfully determined the systemic causes of the issue of dog overpopulation and potential solutions to address them. Ten Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) occurred with representatives from three of the four stakeholder groups discovered in step one. During the FGDs, a causal loop analysis (CLA) was utilised to address not only the issue of dog overpopulation, but the underlying systemic causes of the problem and potential transformational solutions. The CLA identified 13 positive feedback loops that drive vicious cycles and prolong the overpopulation of dogs in the community. A total of 22 solutions were developed to address the causes of dog overpopulation, with Training and Education both being the top priority solutions for all three groups. These co-developed, transformational solutions can build capacity and agency in rAcs.

Step three of the approach, “How do stakeholders collaborate to implement the solutions?’, was tested and successfully analysed the strength of the five necessary components of Collective Impact. The first three components were achieved by the stakeholders and the researcher throughout this study. 1) Common Agenda: A clear common agenda was developed, namely to improve animal management in Wurrumiyanga by reducing the overpopulation of dogs through training and education. 2) Shared Measurement: multiple indicators of success were developed for the training and education solutions to dog overpopulation. 3) Mutually Reinforcing Activities: the solutions table also provided direction as to who should be responsible for conducting the activities related to the solutions. The remaining two components are yet to be fully achieved, identifying gaps in our approach. 4) Continuous Communication: there has been no formal agreement regarding communication amongst the stakeholder groups. All stakeholders communicated directly with myself. 5) Backbone Organisation: as the researcher, I have been undergoing all duties of the Backbone Organisation, managing all aspects from each stakeholder group individually throughout the process. Toward the end of the process, the Backbone Organisation transitioned to the Tiwi Islands Regional Council.

Step four of the approach, “Monitoring” used the indicators of success determined by the stakeholders to conduct baseline measurements before any interventions of dog overpopulation took place. Many indicators could be measured during a routine door-to-door census, including; dog population numbers, the percentage of dogs de-sexed, dog turn-over rates, dog body condition scores and dog skin scores. Dog roaming behaviours were also measured.

Interventions, which are to be conducted by the stakeholders, had just begun when COVID-19 was detected in Australia which forced all rAcs to close. This resulted in a halt in the planned interventions, with only parasitic infections beginning to be controlled and measured.

The discussion and concluding chapter, focused on the lessons learnt throughout the project, not only in terms of the CoMM4Unity approach that has been successful thus far, but reflections that must be considered when utilising the approach in a remote Aboriginal community.

Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 070203 Animal Management
070205 Animal Protection (Pests and Pathogens)
070207 Humane Animal Treatment
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 839901 Animal Welfare
920120 Zoonoses
920405 Environmental Health
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
Description: Please contact if you require access to this thesis for the purpose of research or study.
Appears in Collections:School of Environmental and Rural Science
Thesis Doctoral

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