• NISEP student leader Isaachar Fraser demonstrating the wonders of dry ice to junior students at the school. (Macquarie University, Charles Sturt University and Yaegl Country Aboriginal Elders)Source: Macquarie University, Charles Sturt University and Yaegl Country Aboriginal Elders
An Indigenous science education program is among those recognised at the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes.
NITV Staff Writer

29 Aug 2019 - 12:50 PM  UPDATED 29 Aug 2019 - 12:50 PM

A unique collaboration between scientists and Aboriginal Elders has been honoured at the “Oscars” of Australian science.

The National Indigenous Science Education Program was presented the first “STEM Inclusion” award at the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes in Sydney on Wednesday night.

The program began nearly 20 years ago when chemist Joanne Jamie and her colleagues at Macquarie University started working with Yaegl Country Aboriginal Elders.

During a project to record their bush medicine knowledge, the Elders asked the scientists to help empower their children.

Together they developed a program which delivers science workshops and customary knowledge to Aboriginal high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Will Frazer, a student who started the program in Year 7 at Casino High School, is now studying science and law at Macquarie University.

"The NISEP program I think was really good for helping me build my confidence," he said.

"It's taught me skills and given countless opportunities over the last years and it has led me to where I currently am."

Young leaders from the program engage 2000 people each year.

Dr Jamie said the program showed there were great opportunities to be found if academics and Indigenous communities collaborated with one another.

“Just speak to each other and you may be able to achieve amazing things," she said.

Uncle Ronald Heron, a Yaegl Elder who has academic background as well as bush medicine expertise, said he'd like to see more Indigenous people involved in science. 

"It doesn't come easy," he said, "but going to high school and finishing high school is the first start."

Other winners at the awards have researched wetland carbon storage, helped restore mobility to people with paralysis and created disappearing bone repair material.

Could decolonising STEM provide a solution to sustaining our world?
OPINION | Indigenous societies have lived sustainably for thousands of years, so can our sciences provide a more accurate and ethical algorithm that informs Artificial Intelligence?
Aboriginal astronomy: The science of mapping the sky and the seasons
A new generation of stargazers are exploring how their ancestors used the night sky to thrive and survive in the Australian landscape.
David Unaipon and the $50 note: the story behind the image
The opening credits of The Point with Stan Grant features a range of iconic images that reflect on the state of the nation. One of them is our fifty dollar note, which bears the portrait of David Unaipon.