Children Caring for the Australian Wet Tropics as a Response to the Anthropocene

  • Hilary WhitehouseEmail author
  • Neus (Snowy) Evans
  • Clifford Jackson
  • Marcia Thorne
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area in far north eastern Australia is a unique place where tropical rainforests are internationally recognized for both biodiversity and cultural values. The chapter explores how children, advised and supported by their teachers and parents, in regional and rural schools intimately connected to these rainforests and associated aquatic ecosystems, are doing works of conservation and restoration, both as a response to the novel landscapes created by the rapidly changing environmental conditions of the Anthropocene, and as a personal contribution to caring for the Wet Tropics. Caring for country is an old discourse in Australia with its origins in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Contemporary environmental education practice in Wet Tropics schools draws on these older concepts and those of ecological and social science to create a hybrid of understandings to promote practical means for caring for rainforest country. Interview data from children are presented in the chapter to illuminate in their own words their senses of care and connection to the Wet Tropics. Barriers and enablers to restorative practice are discussed in relation to dominant schooling practices, which continue to marginalize the work of caring, even though caring is a logical and necessary response to the Anthropocene. Children wish to actively care and are supported by adults to do so; however, many aspects of the formal, public school system in Queensland are not yet fully enabling of caring practice.


Children Caring for country Wet tropics Anthropocene Agentic learning Relationality Barriers Enablers 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hilary Whitehouse
    • 1
    Email author
  • Neus (Snowy) Evans
    • 1
  • Clifford Jackson
    • 1
  • Marcia Thorne
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Arts, Society and EducationJames Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Amy Cutter-Mackenzie
    • 1
  • Karen Malone
    • 2
  • Marianne Krasny
    • 3
  • Hilary Whitehouse
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Education, Gold Coast CampusSouthern Cross UniversityGold CoastAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Educational ResearchWestern Sydney UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  4. 4.James Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

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