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Official launch of ARC CoE CABAH

Ben Long, New $46M national research centre to explore Australia’s human and environmental history, University of Wollongong, 22 June 2017

University of Wollongong to host ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage.

Today (Thursday June 22) an international research team headquartered at the University of Wollongong (UOW) begins a seven-year, $45.7 million quest to shed light on Australia’s iconic biodiversity and Indigenous heritage.

The Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, will officially launch the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH) at Parliament House this morning.

The first continental-scale project of its kind in the world, CABAH will pioneer a new understanding of the natural and human history of Australia, Papua New Guinea and eastern Indonesia from 130,000 years ago until European arrival.

CABAH will take an innovative, transdisciplinary approach, bringing world-leading researchers from science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines (spanning the natural sciences) together with scholars from the humanities and social sciences, such as archaeology and Indigenous studies.

The Centre will be led by Distinguished Professor Richard (Bert) Roberts, an ARC Laureate Fellow and Director of UOW’s Centre for Archaeological Science.

Professor Roberts said Australia’s environmental history and Indigenous heritage are fundamental to understanding the story of humanity’s spread across the globe, adaptations to changing environments and interactions with past landscapes and ecosystems.

“Australia boasts an array of fauna and flora that exists nowhere else on Earth,” Professor Roberts said.

“It has some of the world’s most ancient landscapes and deeply weathered and depleted soils, and is home to Indigenous peoples whose genetic and cultural history extends back many tens of millennia.

“But we still do not have answers to some of the most fundamental questions about this continent or its people, such as the timing and routes of their dispersal around the continent, the timing and extent of major changes in climate and fire regimes, or how landscapes, plants and animals responded to the altered conditions.”

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