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Faculty of Science


The Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern Community Centre


Seminar Series - August 10th, 2013


Macquarie University, the Redfern Community Centre, the City of Sydney and Aboriginal elders and communities from around Australia present two exciting days of science for the community, sharing knowledge, skills, ideas and enthusiasm.  Aboriginal knowledge remains important for managing farmland and reserves, for scientific research and for people looking for deeper meaning in life.  To explore this area, the Redfern Community Centre will host a seminar series and family science fun day.



Seminar Program


   9:00am          Introductions and Acknowledgment of Country         

   9:30am          Fran Bodkin - D'harawal woman - Customary Knowledge

 10:00am          Natalie Stoianoff - UTS - Intellectual Property

10:30am          Morning Tea

 11:00am          Gerry Turpin, Leah Talbot & Torenzo Elisala - ATH - Ethnobotany

 11:30am          Russell Barrow, Stewart Wossa & Edwin Castillo - ANU - Biomedicine

 12:00pm          Emilie Ens - ANU - Traditional Knowledge in Modern Ecology

12:30pm          Lunch

   1:30pm          Oliver Costello, Karen Potter & Mark Graham - Firesticks - Customary Fire Management

   2:00pm          Joanne Jamie & Yaegl Elders - Macquarie University - River of Learning

   2:30pm          Kalindi Purtle - The Silkwood School - Education Initiatives

   3:00pm          Marianne Scheumack & Shannon Foster - SOPA - Indigenous content in education

  3:30pm          Afternoon Tea

   4:00pm          Workshop and Poster Presentations

   5:00pm          Farewells


D'harawal People


Fran Bodkin: Aboriginal knowledge is derived from thousands upon thousands of years of observation and experience, recorded in stories – not those expurgated versions of our stories that are published in books by white scholars, but the original stories from the People of the Land, the stories that are anchored to a place, and an incident, stories from which laws and lessons can be learned and applied - even to today, and to all our tomorrows.

The massive change in vegetation since the white man has arrived on these shores has occurred because of the use of introduced land management practices, including the use of fire.   Each ecological community had its own method of management, more particularly fire management. The coastal swamps of the Bidigal had differing fire regimes to the swamps of the plains or the swamps of the highlands.  The beautiful Blue Gum forests also had differing management regimes to the Cumberland Plains Woodlands.   It is a fatal mistake to try to apply the same management practices to all.

I have lived a long time – long past my use by date, and during that time I have observed the changes wrought by natural processes, and by humans, and I have come to realize that modern humankind must, before it is too late, change our habits. We need to conduct long term studies, as in the days before the invasions, not studies which are undertaken during the course of obtaining a degree at university, and then stored on a shelf in the library and forgotten.  We need to undertake continuous studies over lifetimes, if necessary, to learn about this wonderful land of ours before it is too late.


University of Technology Sydney

 Who am I?

My name is Natalie Stoianoff, I am the first of two children of Bulgarian refugee parents who separately came to Australia in the 1950s, met and married at the beginning of the 1960s.  I work for the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) where I am a Professor and Director of the Intellectual Property Program in the Law Faculty. This program trains patent and trade mark attorneys wishing to practice in Australia. My background is in Law and Science with an emphasis on biotechnology. This has influenced my research greatly. I am passionate about how the law can be used as a tool to protect and engage with our living environment. In particular, it is interesting how humanity has interacted with the living environment, learning from and engaging creatively with it. This sparked my interest in Traditional and Indigenous Knowledge, how it can be protected, respected and shared and is the focus of much of my recent research efforts as the Chair of the Organising Committee of the Indigenous Knowledge Forum (IKF).

Where is my place?

I was born in Sydney, grew up in the western suburbs and southern highlands, and live in Randwick but I spent 16 years working and living in the Illawarra where I worked at the University of Wollongong. As a child I really enjoyed the road trips my family would take around NSW and other parts of Australia. As an adult I really enjoy travelling in Australia and overseas and making new friends. I am fortunate that my job as an academic facilitates that enjoyment. Good food and good wine is also a passion and I am very proud that Australian wine is some of the best in the world. I love to cook and experiment with flavours and look forward to learning more about bush food and bush medicine. Aunty Fran, who is one of the most inspiring people I know outside of my small family, will be taking me on a walk soon to teach me about the importance of associations between plants and animals in the Australian bush.

What is my talk about?

Australia is the most mega- biologically diverse developed nation in the world supporting 10% of the world’s biodiversity. While this biodiversity plays a significant role in climate change mitigation, there has been much pressure placed on biodiversity in Australia due to the agricultural sector’s land clearing practices, poor land management leading to destructive fires, and poor water management. Indigenous ecological knowledge has become increasingly recognised as a more effective means of managing the Australian landscape particularly since that knowledge has an holistic approach of understanding the seasons, biodiversity, land and water. An example is the managed burning practices of Indigenous peoples based on the knowledge of Indigenous elders. However, there is concern regarding intergenerational loss of such knowledge about country. This is a well-recognised issue that is cause for concern for the knowledge holders and their communities and the whole of humanity and was discussed at length at the Indigenous Knowledge Forum held at UTS in August 2012. We have been exploring existing regimes that recognise Indigenous ecological knowledge as part of a living culture that requires access to country with the intention of facilitating the development of legislation for recognition and protection of such knowledge in natural resource management which in turn will encourage access to country by the traditional custodians of that country and the ongoing development of their knowledge.


Australian Tropical Herbarium - James Cook University

Who am I?

My name is Gerry Turpin and I am an ethnobotanist with The Australian Tropical Herbarium, Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA). I have been with the department for over 22 years. My previous work has been performing a revision of Regional Ecosystem and Vegetation Mapping Survey of the Channel Country in far Central and South West Queensland while at the Queensland Herbarium in Brisbane. I have since transferred back to Cairns to be closer to my home country and family. I am now in the process of developing an Indigenous-driven Tropical Indigenous Ethnobotany Centre in partnership with Cairns Institute (James Cook University), DSITIA, CSIRO and other government agencies and organizations. I am currently recording and documenting Aboriginal plant use with various Indigenous communities on the Atherton Tablelands and Cape York, NTH QLD and am particularly interested in using Traditional Knowledge in combination with Western Science to manage issues such as climate change and loss of biodiversity, land management, and bringing economic benefits back into the communities.

My name is Leah Talbot, and I am currently supported by CSIRO to undertake my PhD, in the area of integration of conservation and Indigenous knowledge, governance systems, rights and interests.   I have had experience in conservation and environmental management, high level Indigenous negotiations and developing collaborative Indigenous research methodologies and participative planning with Indigenous communities.  I also have experience in International forums particularly in environment policy, community engagement and Indigenous involvement. Generally, my interests have always included social justice issues, Indigenous peoples rights and responsibilities, environmental issues, protection of cultural and natural resources, and finding ways and methods to develop a better future for our planet and people.   I also speak Spanish, and have spent some time living in Costa Rica.   I hold a Masters of Science (with an Indigenous Land Management Techniques Thesis) and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies. 

My name is Torenzo Elisala I have just recently started an Indigenous traineeship with CSIRO. The Program set out in an Indigenous-driven Tropical Indigenous Ethnobotany Centre in partnership with Cairns Institute (James Cook University), DSITIA, CSIRO and other government agencies and organizations. I was previously working as a Supervisor with Community Enterprises Australia which consisted of maintaining and beautification of my Island Community of Dauan Island, prior to this I was a Councilor for my community which I represented at a State and Commonwealth Government level. I am currently working with Gerry Turpin as an Ethnobotinist, recording and documenting Indigenous Australian plant use in the North Queensland & Far North Queensland regions of Australia.

Where is my place?

Gerry: I was born in Atherton on the Atherton Tablelands in north Queensland. I am a descendant of the Mbabaram tribe the through my grandmother, and Mbabaram country is about 20km west of Atherton. I also have familial links to Tableland Yidinjii, Ngadjon on the Tablelands and Kuku Thaypan tribe on Cape York. When time allows, I like to go back to my country to camp, fish and learn more about our culture. Our country has been mined extensively over the years and we face severe environmental issues created from the mines. So we are working towards making the mines responsible, and also designing projects to help heal our country.

Leah: I was born in Mackay in Central Queensland to an Aboriginal mother and a Non-Indigenous father.  Through my mother and grand-mothers traditional links, I am a descendant of the Kuku Yalanji People from the Bloomfield River area in Far North Queensland.  After living and working mostly in southern parts of Queensland, I wanted to come home and be closer to my family and extended traditional families.  I feel a strong connection to the Wet Topics rainforest region, particularly to the areas in the northern part including Mossman Gorge, Daintree and Cape Tribulation areas.   Whenever time allows, I love to take my young children and elderly mother to visit, camp and spend time on our traditional lands with our extended family groups.

Torenzo: I was born on Thursday Island in Far North Queensland which is 30km NW off the tip of Cape York Peninsula and 90 nautical miles SE of Dauan Island. My Island home of Dauan is in the Top Western cluster group which also includes Saibai and Boigu of the Torres Strait Islands we are known as the (Guda Malulgal). My clan groups are Dtheoybau (Wild Yam) and Thabu (Snake), I was fortunate to go back to Dauan after I finished my secondary schooling in Brisbane at Marist Brothers Ashgrove, which in that case had the opportunity to further my knowledge from a cultural and traditional perspective. Learning about the Land, Sea and traditional and cultural values, such as Island passing, which is very important to me and my Culture as it identifies me as a Torres Strait Islander. Through this I learnt how to look after our lands and sea’s only taking what is necessary for the benefit of our people, as it has been practiced for thousands of years by our ancestors.

What is my talk about?

Gerry: My talk is bout the Development of the Tropical Indigenous Ethnobotany Centre (TIEC), based at the Australian Tropical Herbarium, James Cook University, Cairns.  A workshop was held at the herbarium with Traditional Owners from across the Wet Tropics bioregion and Cape York Peninsula, together with scientists, herbarium botanists and policy-makers interested in ethnobotany from across south-east Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. The principal outcome of the workshop was the formation of the Indigenous-driven Tropical Indigenous Ethnobotany Centre. The TIEC is unique as it is the first of its kind in Australia and is a concept initiated and driven by Traditional Owners. The main aim of TIEC is to provide assistance to Traditional Owners in recording and documenting, protecting, managing and maintaining their cultural knowledge on the use of plants. TIEC activities are grouped under four themes: i) Research, ii) Training and Education, iii) Intellectual Property, Protocols and Agreements and iv) Collation of Existing Data and Collections.

Leah: My talk today is about my new role at CSIRO and how CSIRO are supporting young Indigenous career scientists and researchers.  In undertaking a PhD with the support from CSIRO, not only am I furthering my own career opportunities as an Indigenous researcher in Science, but I am also contributing to Australia’s leading scientific research facility by way of building a better understanding of Indigenous Peoples role and contribution to science and research.  My role and projects I am involved with generally in the Wet Tropics region with the Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples Alliance which is a strategic alliance of 20 traditional owner groups in the Wet Tropics supporting each other and attempting to set the research priorities, among other things, for themselves and in line with their own cultural and natural resource management aspirations for their traditional country estates.


Australian National University

Who am I?

My name is Stewart Wossa and I am a PhD research student in the Organic Chemistry of Natural Systems research group at the Research School of Chemistry, ANU. My research work focusses on establishing the scientific merits to the traditional knowledge systems pertaining to the chemistry and biological activities of chemical compounds based on the ethno-mycological knowledge and practices amongst indigenous tribal communities in Papua New Guinea. Apart from studying mushrooms, I have also been involved in the documentation of the chemistry of essential oils from the diversity of endemic aromatic plants, including screening extracts of traditional medicinal plants. I am passionate about research towards adding value, through chemical evaluation, to the readily available bioresources with particular interest on the non-timber forest products (NTFP). My desire is to assist and empower local indigenous tribes, through such work, to be more self-reliant through sustainable utilisation of their readily available bioresources for their collective interest. To this end, my contribution to the essential oils work had resulted in the ongoing small-scale commercial distillation of the massoia oil (Cryptocarya massoia, Lauraceae) in the Mekeo area of the Central Province, and we have recently initiated mushroom cultivation amongst the Kiovi tribal community in Eastern Highlands Province. My wife Leleh and I have two lovely little daughters and are expecting a son, who will be joining us in September.

My name is Edwin Castillo, I am a PhD student in the Organic Chemistry of Natural Systems research group at The Australian National University. Under the supervision of Dr Russell Barrow, I am involved in the screening of mushroom extracts from Papua New Guinea for their potential as antibacterials. In addition, I am also involved in the identification, isolation and purification of the secondary metabolite(s) responsible for the antibacterial activity. My background is in pharmaceutical science and I am very interested in traditional medicine. I feel fortunate to have joined my research group because it has given me the opportunity to learn about Papua New Guineans and their traditional uses of mushrooms as medicines. In my spare time I enjoy doing sport (Judo, cycling, scuba diving) but I also like to relax camping in the bush.

Where is my place?

Stewart: I was born at Tapen in the Raicoast District of the Madang Province, PNG. From a rural setting, I grew up appreciating the splendid gifts of nature. As I moved away from the village in pursuit of education and work, I always look forward to returning to the village during holidays. Prior to taking up studies, I was teaching chemistry at the University of Goroka in the Eastern Highlands Province, PNG.

Edwin: I was born in a colonial town named Leon in the Pacific coast of Nicaragua (Central America). I came to Australia in 2004 and have lived most of that time in Canberra. These days I proudly say that I am a Nicaraguan but I also say that I am a Canberran, as I consider it as my second home.

What is my talk about?

Our talk will cover the traditional naming systems and how that contributes to our understanding of the epistemological virtues of the indigenous perceptions and classification of mushrooms. We will further highlight how we have used such ethnological knowledge systems and practices to guide us in identifying diverse arrays of interesting chemical compounds showing antibiotic and anticancer properties.



Who am I? 

My Name is Oliver Costello, I am a Bundjalung man born and bred on the Northern Rivers of NSW. I am currently employed by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW as the Firesticks Project coordinator, while on leave from the Aboriginal Co management Unit of NPWS. I hold a BA in Adult Education and Community Management from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) where I am also a Visiting Fellow at Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning. I initiated the original Firesticks project with support from Traditional Knowledge Revival Pathways, the Kuku Thaypan Fire Management Research Project and UTS Design to engage with Aboriginal community groups, Universities, NGO’s and Government Agencies in the development of collaborative fire projects focusing on South Eastern Australia. One of the resulting projects is the NCCNSW lead - Firesticks: Applying contemporary and Aboriginal fire to enhance biodiversity, connectivity and landscape resilience which is supported through funding from the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future Biodiversity Fund.

My name is Mark Graham, I work for the Nature Conservation Council's Firesticks and Hotspots Fire Projects. After studying Environmental Resource Management at Southern Cross University, on the NSW north coast, I have worked as an ecologist for government, industry and non-government organisations for over 15 years. My work has occurred mostly across the north of NSW from the coast to beyond the Darling River. I have broad range of work experience from biodiversity assessment, environmental planning, threatened species management, environmental education through to on-ground environmental management and bush regeneration activities. I particularly enjoy working in and have a good understanding of rainforests and wetland environments. All these experiences have provided me with a good understanding of the management needs of our internationally significant landscapes in northern NSW.

My name is Karen Potter, I am currently employed by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW as the Firesticks Project Officer, I previously worked as Aboriginal Heritage Officer with the Office of Environment and Heritage for 15 years. I was heavily involved in the establishment of the Willows and Boorabee Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) and I am the IPA coordinator. I have many interests and projects on the go, including managing a project with Fisheries as part of the IPA program involving tagging and releasing, sexing, weighing and condition of fish targeting the Murray Cod.

Where is my place? 

Mark: Growing up in the Coffs Harbour I have spent many years exploring my natural backyard and continue to do so to this day. In my spare time I enjoy working on my property at Darkwood, located near the Bellinger River National Park. One of my most important roles is being a dad, where my partner and I have a lovely son who provides me with an enormous amount of joy.

Oliver: I grew up in Bundjalung Country on the rivers, beaches and hills of the Northern Rivers of NSW. I currently live in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney with my partner and two kids. My Grandmother was taken away from her country and community, despite this I am very fortunate to know and have grown up on the lands of my people. Through this connection to country and community I have developed a deep sense of respect for both. This connection has promoted a profound sense of belonging and strength of identity that inspires me to endeavour to learn and create positive change.

Karen: I was born in Glen Innes, my family is traditionally from Taree (Biripi Country). My husband Trevor is a traditional Ngoorabul person (Glen Innes area) and CEO of the Glen Innes Local Aboriginal Land Council. We have two sons, one at Coffs Harbour the other at Brisbane. I enjoy being out of town on country, fishing and growing plants. 

What is our talk about?

As part of the Firesticks team, Oliver Costello, Karen Potter and Mark Graham will talk about our work with 7 Aboriginal project partners on the NSW tableland and north coast regions. A key aim of this work is to increase cultural learning and understanding on the diversity of fire to support a healthy people and healthy country approach to Natural Cultural Resource Management.

The Cultural Burning story is one of place and one which has many uses, characteristics and outcomes. Traditionally fire is known by many terms and in many languages. The Firesticks project uses the term Cultural Burning to describe the number of different ways
fire can be implemented with cultural authority in a cultural context – camp fire, ceremony fire and farming with fire (resource protection and production) are just some examples of this. Importantly, Firesticks believes that Aboriginal people’s living knowledge systems can help to support today’s fire management concerns facing our society and environment. By building and sharing fire related stories and relationships from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal knowledge systems, Firesticks seeks to improve natural and cultural resource management outcomes to ultimately care for country.


Macquarie University

Who am I?

My name is Joanne Jamie and I am a Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry academic, and Deputy Head, in the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences at Macquarie University.  My research activities include working in partnership with Australian Aboriginal people to identify medicinally important molecules from traditional (bush) medicines; examining human lens chemistry in order to understand the development of age related cataracts (one of the major causes of human blindness); and the design and synthesis of new compounds as medicines to treat neurological disorders, cancers and cataract.

I have had almost 20 years of experience in teaching at university, especially of chemistry of biological or medical relevance.  I am particularly passionate about teaching in a way that encourages student understanding and a lasting interest in science and chemistry.  I am highly committed to engaging not only students, but the wider community in science, and have worked with thousands of school students showing the wonders of science.  I have been particularly dedicated towards increasing educational outcomes for Indigenous youth, and am Co-Director of the National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP), a multi-award winning program that places Indigenous school students in leadership positions while providing science and further education opportunities (see and  I am proud to be a part of the organising team for the Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern and hope you all enjoy the event.

Where is my place?

I was born in Brisbane and spent my first 21 years there.  I then moved to Canberra where I did a PhD at the Research School of Chemistry, ANU, followed by some postdoctoral research.  My husband and I then moved to Wollongong, where we worked at Wollongong University for 6 years, and where I got my first taste of being an academic.  I have been in Sydney and working at Macquarie University since 2000.  All of these places that I have lived at are special to me.

What is my talk about?

My talk will be co-presented with some of the Yaegl community visiting form northern NSW.  I will give a brief journey of the development of the National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP), which was initiated following Aboriginal elders, including some of the Yaegl elders, asking myself and the now fellow co-directors of NISEP to help increase educational outcomes of their youth using our science skills.  With the Yaegl community we will showcase some of the achievements of this program.  We will also highlight an inspiring program that the Yaegl elders run with local school youth, the River of Learning, which has the elders themselves explaining their scientific cultural practices and in turn enhancing the educational outcomes of their youth. 



Silkwood School

Who am I? 

My name is Kalindi Brennan and I have a passion for sustainable environmental education.  I have been a teacher at Silkwood School, in SE Queensland for the past 12 years.  In addition to my Master of Education degree, I completed my Master of Environment – Education for Sustainability degree in 2012.  I am a strong advocate for peer-to-peer learning and engaging students in being teachers and facilitators of learning programs.  Two of my students and one of their local indigenous mentors will be assisting in presenting at this conference and will share their experiences of our project-based learning programs.  


Where is my place?


In the context of this conference, I’d like to talk about my school as it is one of my most special places in the world.  Silkwood is a small independent, secular school catering for girls and boys from Prep to Grade 10.  Silkwood's environmental uniqueness begins with the school site. Situated far enough away from the bustle of town life, but close enough for access, the Silkwood campus is an adventure in itself. Two flowing creeks, native bush habitats and abundant birdlife & fauna surround the school.  The site has been carefully planned to blend our natural surroundings with specially designed learning centres, including outdoor learnscapes & interpretive trails.  Silkwood School is part of Kombumerri country and the wider Yugambeh language region, which includes the Gold Coast, Scenic Rim and Logan regions.  We respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and their capacity and resilience as indigenous custodians.


What is my talk about?


Our talk at the conference will focus on one of our award winning environmental projects: ‘Building Connections to Local Environments Through Indigenous Knowledge’.  We will discuss & share the journey of connecting to a school’s sense of ‘place’; in particular, connecting to local indigenous culture and exploring the unique opportunities native habitats provide for learning. Students work with mentors, conduct research and then create ‘hands-on’, authentic workshops to run with other students.  They’ve now extended to teaching and sharing with adults as well.  These workshops take participants on an environmental and cultural journey with interactive indigenous themed activities - including sensory storytelling; story art, craft & technology in nature; attentiveness in the environment; interpretive bush trail wanders; and how to cultivate & use bush tucker & other useful native indigenous plants. Students will facilitate some of these activities at the conference and community day.


Sydney Olympic Park Authority

Who am I?

I am Marianne Sheumack. I have a Doctorate in Biological Sciences (Microbiology) and put my Microbiology to use in the clean-up of a small corner of the Homebush site in preparation for the  Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. My involvement (with two other scientists) centred on the establishment of a bioremediation system to treat landfill leachate. We use indigenous microorganisms to degrade toxic compounds in polluted ground water, which arises from the former land use as a town gas manufacturing plant. I have worked for Sydney Olympic Park Authority in the Education unit since 2003 and am passionate about education for sustainability. In my job, I work with school and university students, delegations and professionals to showcase the Olympic site as an example of sustainability in action. I also facilitate a cluster of Park businesses as part of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage’s Sustainability Advantage business program.

I am Shannon Foster and I am a D’harawal Saltwater woman and Indigenous Education Officer for Sydney Olympic Park and Taronga Zoo. I have been raised with close links to my Indigenous culture through my D’harawal father and have been extremely fortunate to have many brilliant and generous Elders share their knowledge with me. I am now proud to pass this knowledge on to my students and colleagues in the Education Unit of Sydney Olympic Park and also international tourists in my role as an Indigenous Discovery Host with Taronga Zoo. I am a qualified teacher with a Postgraduate Diploma in Education from Sydney University and am in the amazingly fortunate position of being able to combine my passion for natural science and the environment with my Indigenous knowledge in teaching roles. I come from a long line of brilliant and talented Indigenous activists, social workers and performers. I am the extremely proud great granddaughter of Tom and Eliza Foster who were amongst the original petitioners fighting for equal rights for Aboriginal people on that Australia Day in 1938 – the world’s very first Civil Rights protest - that led to what we now know as NAIDOC. It is on their shoulders that I stand as I continue their inspiring work through education, bringing awareness to Aboriginal culture - the world’s oldest and longest surviving, continuous human culture in history.

Where is my place?

Marianne: I was born in the chilly south of NZ but have lived in Sydney most of my life – growing up in a Sydney sandstone bushland area and moving to a similar heathland bush area in the Hawkesbury after marriage. My husband and I built our own mud brick house and raised two children there. Over the years, I became active in Streamwatch and protecting my local area from the devastation of sandmining and other assaults on its natural attributes (eg high quality groundwater, Aboriginal heritage). Whilst enjoying the bush on walks, I often imagine how amazing Sydney and its environs must have been pre-1788 and try to put myself in the shoes of the indigenous inhabitants from that time.

Shannon: I grew up in a very small suburb on the outskirts of Bankstown in a very Anglo Saxon Australian environment which quickly became very multicultural during my teens. I have always been fascinated with other cultures and traditions and have had many close friends from different cultural backgrounds. Having spent some time living in Melbourne on the beautiful beaches of Port Phillip Bay, I now live in Balgowlah on the Northern Beaches and have found that I am happiest when I can be near the ocean.  My heart is most at peace when I am in the wild Australian bushland such as my ancestral D’harawal land in the Royal National Park or on the beach at La Perouse.

What is my talk about?

Marianne: An exciting project I have recently managed for the Authority has been the incorporation of an authentic indigenous perspective across our entire school excursion program suite. The aim of this is to enrich the learning experience for all school students who visit the Park (28,000 students each year), whilst aligning our programs with the new Australian Curriculum cross-curricular themes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and sustainability. Being non-indigenous, there were difficulties in achieving this outcome until I met Shannon Foster, a D’harawal Knowledge Keeper. This talk shares our experience in working together to achieve this outcome.

Shannon: My talk is a combined effort with Dr Marianne Sheumack of Sydney Olympic Park Authority. We are keen to share our experiences in working together to combine and incorporate Indigenous science with western science into the education programs that are delivered within the Park’s living laboratory – the mangrove wetlands and its surrounding natural environments. It has been an amazing opportunity to be able to incorporate my family’s knowledge into such a brilliant range of programs that are delivered to almost 30, 000 students per year. Our wish is that through sharing our knowledge and experiences we can inspire other people to do the same.  



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