Australian Bicentennial Authority

In July 1985, Cabinet approved the Bicentenary Commemorative Program Project: “An Aboriginal Pharmacopoeia” for submission to the Commonwealth Government and the allocation of $233,000 to the project from “reserve funds” held for the involvement of Aboriginal Australians and/or other projects of a commemorative nature. 

The submission noted many plants are still used by Northern Territory Aborigines in traditional medical treatment.

The project involved documenting plants known to have been, or still, in use for therapeutic purposes; it was noted that much of this type of knowledge in southern Australia had already been irretrievably lost. 

All data would be of Aboriginal origin to be obtained through ngunkaris and other medicine men and women or through library search.

The stated aims of the proposed project were to safeguard traditional knowledge against permanent loss to future Australians, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to evaluate and document Aboriginal traditional medicine and assess its use in modern programs of health care by Aboriginal Health Workers and the wider Australian community, and to strengthen the place of Aboriginal traditional medicine in the training of Aboriginal Health Workers.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 3597 and decision number 4207 of 11 July 1985 (4.5 mb).

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Last updated: 18 April 2016