Traditional Australian Medicinal Plants Agribusiness Project

Integria is proud to be playing a role in the development of Australia’s own traditional medicinal plants and continues to work with Indigenous communities and other collaborators to develop new products with unique, native Australian ingredients.

Project Overview

In an Australian-first partnership, Integria was approached by local indigenous communities to help develop a sustainable agribusiness model for traditional Australian medicinal plants growing in Northern Australia.

The first part of the project (2018-2021), which was a partnership between Integria Healthcare, Menzies School of Health Research, Traditional Homeland Enterprises and The University of Queensland, received $363,363 in funding from the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA). An additional $188,845 in cash and $461,074 in-kind was contributed by the project participants.  

The project partners attended key workshops in 2019-20 to optimise the research outputs in line with the collaboration’s longer term goals. The final report for this phase of the project was submitted to the CRCNA on 15th April 2021. 

The initial phase of the project was a success in identifying a number of Indigenous medicinal plants with unique potential to benefit the wider Australian community. 

Integria continue to proudly collaborate with several northern Australian Indigenous communities and Menzies School of Health Research, with a focus on documenting the efficacy and safety of several priority plant species. This includes the traditional methods of preparation and methods of use, coupled with scientific evaluation of the chemical composition of the plants. 

The collaborative project has also continued implementing training initiatives for Indigenous students in sustainable harvesting, management of medicinal plants, as well as scientific and laboratory skills for the analysis of medicinal properties. Collectively, we aim to build an inclusive community with strengths and knowledge to help in identifying the unique benefits of Australian native medicinal plants with an underlying respect for the Indigenous people’s connection of nature and medicine.

Project Focus

The collaboration brought together extensive research and industry experience to focus on traditional Australian medicinal plants as an important biological, cultural and economic resource.

Traditional medicinal plants were evaluated at Menzies in Darwin and the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Queensland, with a view to using these findings to develop prototype healthcare products.

The long-term goal of the project was – and remains - the development of a local industry with opportunities in Indigenous workforce development, sustainable regional development in Northern Australia, and ultimately the development of uniquely Australian, value-added products.

Traditional Homeland Enterprises brought to the partnership its experience in the Kakadu plum industry to collaborate with Top End communities in developing models for sustainable Indigenous-led agribusinesses and explore solutions to challenges such as supply chain, benefit sharing and intellectual property management.

Opportunities for Indigenous communities 

According to Mark Mayo, the partnership’s Indigenous Steering Committee representative and Menzies researcher, the group initiated plans for this project with a view to creating important opportunities for collaboration and mutual learning through the application of modern science to Indigenous knowledge.

“This exciting project will provide opportunities for Aboriginal people to share their knowledge of medicinal plants, developed over thousands of years, with researchers that have expertise in laboratory testing and healthcare product development,” Mayo said.

“The project also offers employment and training for Indigenous people, as well as the possibility of developing a sustainable agribusiness for future employment and training in Indigenous communities,” he said. 

“In addition to laboratory work, there are opportunities to explore and preserve Indigenous knowledge of traditional medicinal plants and their use,” said Menzies Honorary Fellow Dr Greg Leach.

CAPTION: Left: Indigenous Trainees Taylah Church (front) and Raelene Collins setting up tests to determine activity of plant extracts against specific bacteria in the Menzies lab, Darwin.

Interview with Michael Bracka- Integria Healthcare CEO:

Interview with Greg Leach- Botanist from Menzies School of Health Research: