Working Together with Remote Indigenous Communities to Facilitate Adapting to Using Energy Wisely

Barriers and Enablers

Petra T. Buergelt, Elaine L. Maypilama, Julia McPhee, Galathi Dhurrkay, Shirley Nirrpuranydji, Sylvia Mänydjurrpuy, Marrayurra Wunungmurra, Timophy Skinner, Anne Lowell, Simon Moss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


A $12 million Commonwealth funded consortium project trialled energy efficiency initiatives in six remote Indigenous communities over three years. This project, which won several awards, employed and educated over 80 local YolLatin small letter Engu to educate their fellow community members to use power wisely. The research and evaluation component was designed together by Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and entailed ethnography and a local Indigenous co-researcher approach. Sixteen local YolLatin small letter Engu co-researchers conducted 125 in-depth qualitative interviews with community members across six communities in the local languages. At the beginning of the project, the YolLatin small letter Engu co-researchers conducted 40 narrative interviews with fellow Indigenous community members to find out how they use power, and to identify barriers to and enablers of using power efficiently. Towards the end of the project, YolLatin small letter Engu co-researchers conducted 85 in-depth interviews with fellow Indigenous community members and with YolLatin small letter Engu who had educated community members to evaluate the project. The interpreted and transcribed interviews were analysed using a combination of thematic and narrative strategies (interviews at the start of the project) and of content, thematic and narrative strategies (evaluation interviews). The stories provide rare insights into how YolLatin small letter Engu used, experienced and interpreted fire or power in the old days, missionary times and government days. The stories identify barriers to, and enablers of, Indigenous and non-indigenous people working together designing and conducting projects. The stories capture how YolLatin small letter Engu educators and Indigenous community members experienced and interpreted the project - including effective practices, challenges, impediments and recommendations for the future. In this paper, we share the essence of these stories to provide an overview of the key barriers and enablers of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people working together in remote Indigenous communities to use power efficiently. We propose that, for projects with Indigenous people to be effective, non-indigenous partners need to closely and genuinely work together with remote Indigenous communities prior to applying for funding and implementing projects as well as throughout the projects. The projects need to employ a long-term and adaptive process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-269
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy Procedia
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventImproving Residential Energy Efficiency International Conference, IREE 2017 - Wollongong, Australia
Duration: 16 Feb 201717 Feb 2017


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