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- Dr David Eastburn
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Dr David Eastburn is a social-ecological systems geographer who has worked closely with rural communities in Australia and Papua New Guinea for almost five decades in the areas of education, communication, community capacity realization and social-ecological resilience.
Much of his career has involved working with communities during periods of change, including the transition of Papua New Guinea to political Independence (1969-1981); helping rural children to affirm identities and consider alternative futures (Commonwealth Schools Commission Country Areas Program 1982-1984) and the promotion of a government-community ‘partnership’ to manage the million square kilometre Murray-Darling Basin as an integrated social-ecological system (River Murray/ Murray-Darling Basin Commissions1984-1998). His career has also included an 18-year association with the water industry and river ecology such as the development of an agri-ecological land-use plan for the strategic lower Murrumbidgee floodplain bioregion (Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority 2006-2007). His current work involves cooperatively identifying under-recognised local natural/ecological, cultural, social and individual human assets and utilizing/celebrating them to assist rural communities to realize their capacities for more resilient futures.
He studied at the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) and was associated with Papua New Guinea from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. For a decade he worked as a high school teacher in the Southern Highlands and New Ireland. This included being responsible for establishing Koroba High School ‘from the ground up’, being a member of the national secondary Social Science syllabus review panel, and establishing a provincial museum at Mendi. He also pioneered trekking tours through isolated parts of the Southern Highlands, Hela, Western and Sandaun provinces and was involved in documentary film-making.
His photographs have been widely published in Papua New Guinea, and overseas. He was a regular contributor to Air Niugini’s in-flight magazine, Paradise. He produced booklets on the Foi, Hewa and Huli peoples for the National Cultural Council’s series People of Papua New Guinea, and also produced a photographic booklet on the Southern Highlands. His photographs have appeared on the covers of industry magazines, the PNG Philatelic Bureau’s annual stamp pack, on calendars and postcards, and in international art books.