The Noongar-language word ‘dandjoo’ translates to ‘together’.
DBCA acknowledges the unique role and expertise Aboriginal people have as traditional owners of the lands and waters it manages, and recognises the valuable contribution they make to the conservation of biodiversity.
Aboriginal spiritual, social, and cultural values are recognised and respected within DBCA, and there is a commitment to gaining an understanding of and sharing knowledge about Aboriginal culture.
Traditional languages are used in the naming of DBCA’s managed lands and waters, features and assets, including digital platforms.
The Noongar-language word ‘dandjoo’ is generally translated into English as ‘together’. ‘Together’ aptly describes Dandjoo’s core function - to bring data together, so its value can be magnified and shared.
The name Dandjoo recognises that working together has been critical to establishing BIO’s data sharing platform. The platform has been realised thanks to the capacity of individuals and institutions from all sectors to work collaboratively, and to share both expertise and data with the BIO team and with one another.
The name also references BIO’s partnerships with other State and Commonwealth agencies. Dandjoo is one piece in a much broader plan to improve government decision-making by improving access to data, with agencies working together as one government.
Finding a name
The BIO team’s first step in selecting a name for Dandjoo was to speak to the staff in DBCA’s own Aboriginal Engagement and Heritage Unit (AEHU). We started by asking whether using an Aboriginal-language word as a name was appropriate, and they were very supportive.
From that point on, DBCA’s AEHU team were invaluable - they not only guided us through the process, but also spent a considerable amount of time talking to us about the intent and background of our project, and personally undertaking research to find potential names.
On the AEHU team’s advice we looked to the Noongar language as our source, in recognition that BIO’s office sits on Whadjuk Noongar country. After a number of great discussions (and learning many Noongar words along the way) we agreed that ‘dandjoo’ was particularly fitting.
From there, we approached the Noongar Boodjar Language Centre to ask for a certified translation and for their support to use the name Dandjoo. In addition to providing both, they also shared a recording of ‘dandjoo’ as pronounced by a Noongar-speaker, which you can listen to belo
We are deeply appreciative of the time, thought, and effort provided by both AEHU and Noongar Boodja Language Centre staff in helping us name Dandjoo.
Aboriginal species names and Dandjoo
While Dandjoo uses scientific names to organise records and make them searchable we recognise that Western Australia’s flora and fauna have Aboriginal-language names that predate scientific names by many thousands of years.
Aboriginal-language names do not always have a direct, one-to-one relationship with scientific names. Even within the many languages spoken within Western Australia, names can vary from place to place, and a single name can refer to a variety of species - something that is also the case for many English-language common names.
Aboriginal-language names, English-language common names, and scientific names can also represent quite different concepts. For example, while scientific names aim to capture evolutionary relationships, other names may have different purposes - for example, grouping things that have the same traditional uses, or things that appear similar.
The growing field of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge is establishing a connection between traditional knowledge and western biodiversity science, with work on Aboriginal-language names forming a bridge between the two.
The Noongar-Wudjari Project, co-led by the Noongar Boodjar Language Centre and CSIRO’s Atlas of Living Australia team provides a great example from the South-West of Western Australia, with linguists and scientists working in the field to collect and promote ancestral ecological knowledge. This work has since been expanded to other Aboriginal languages, including Ngarla, Thiin, and Warriyangga Western Australia.
If you would like to know more about the Noongar-Wudjari Project, check out CSIRO’s media release and article on the project to learn about what’s involved, and visit the Noongar-Wudjari Plant and Animal Encyclopedia. You can also learn more about similar projects across Australia on the Atlas of Living Australia’s Indigenous Ecological Knowledge page.