Indigenous Science Network Bulletin
April 2004
(Volume 7, Number 2)
ISSN  1449-2091

Editor: Michael Michie

Tiwi designs by Jennifer Coombs, Munupi Arts & Crafts Association, Pirlangimpi, Melville Island, NT








MEDIA RELEASE: National Indigenous Postgraduate Association Aboriginal Corporation (provided by IndigOz)

The National Indigenous Postgraduate Association Aboriginal Corporation has grave concerns that the Government will act on a Higher Education Equity Group review that does not include an analysis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

"Indigenous students are, across the board, the most disadvantaged group in higher education, yet the first key reference to them in DEST's Analysis of Equity Groups in Higher Education is where the report states, 'The project team was not asked to analyse the performance of Indigenous people'. There is no further explanation for their omission", NIPAAC President Vicki-Ann Speechley-Golden said.

"How can a proposed re-classification of equity groups in higher education be considered without comparing the gross disadvantage that puts Indigenous students in an equity category with, for example, the relative scarcity of male students in Education and Nursing?" Ms Speechley-Golden questioned.

"It is due to this sort of selective prioritisation that the report also shows men to be emerging contenders for an equity classification based on their absence from male non-traditional areas, when women continue to be almost invisible in some courses that lead to high paid professions," Ms Speechley-Golden said.

NIPAAC welcomes comments by Australian vice-chancellors on Tuesday about the 'dumbing down' and narrowing of equity indicators evidenced in the report.

"We agree with vice-chancellors who have argued that there is a dramatic difference between structural inequality relating to wealth and status and under-representation at universities in some discipline areas," Ms Speechley-Golden continued.

"Men are also under-represented amongst Indigenous students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, but overall in Indigenous and non-Indigenous professional areas that are not traditional to men, men still go on to progress more rapidly than women. If appropriate equity indicators had been used in the review, a consideration of Indigenous Peoples' participation might have been put ahead of a male participation decline," said Ms Speechley-Golden.

"Indeed, where the DEST report does mention Indigenous students in its discussion of multiple group membership, it shows that 30% of Indigenous students are also categorised in the low socio-economic equity group," Ms Speechley-Golden explained. 

"It is a real concern to us that the report highlights continuing low enrolments by people from low socio-economic backgrounds, identifies a strong overlap between the low SES and Indigenous equity groups, yet otherwise ignores Indigenous equity issues. This all at a time when higher education is becoming increasingly expensive and inaccessible under the Nelson reforms," Ms Speechley-Golden concluded.

For more information: NIPAAC President Vicki-Ann Speechley-Golden 0427 780 445 or NIPAAC Media Officer Adrian Hepi 0421 175 589


Review of Teaching and Teacher Education Final Report

Australia's Teachers: Australia’s Future – Advancing Innovation, Science, Technology and Mathematics

This report found that science, technology and mathematics education must be given high priority nationally, in all education systems and every school.

Moves to save dying languages Message Stick News (17 March 2004, AEST)

According to UNESCO, more than half of the world's 6,000 languages are in danger of dying out, ranging from native American languages in the United States to Scottish Gaelic, which is now spoken by only 60,000 or so mostly elderly people.

Russell Hegarty brings cultural camps into school for Cherbourg youth Message Stick News (26 March 2004, AEST) 

The Aboriginal community of Cherbourg came to prominence during the recent state election, but for all the wrong reasons. A visit by opposition leader Lawrence Springborg cast a light over problems of domestic violence, sexual assault, drink and drugs.


Melbourne University School of Development Studies

The twelfth of our Working Papers has recently been posted to the Melbourne University Private website and is available to download if you wish. The title of Working Paper 12 is 'Microfinance as an Intervention Against Child Labour in Footwear Production in the Philippines'.  The author is Thomas Kring. The paper can be accessed at:

The second issue of Three60 - the Melbourne development forum is now available on the Melbourne University Private website. Three60 is an e-bulletin published by the School of Development Studies in collaboration with the School of Anthropology, Geography and Environmental Studies of the University of Melbourne. The focus of Three60 is development in practice. Each issue explores actual development projects - discussing the global problems; examining concepts behind the designs; presenting project management issues and solutions - a practitioner tool-kit; and sharing the views of various stakeholders, including grassroots points of view. The feature projects for Issue 2 are a number of AusAID's short-term training projects managed by Melbourne University Private.


Kurtal The Snake Spirit
Kurtal - Snake Spirit is a rare documentary of a journey undertaken by members of an Aboriginal community going back to country to perform an ancient ceremony. Produced by Nicole Ma Productions

Dream and the Dreaming
For over thirty thousand years, the Desert People of Central Australia had walked their lands, their life governed by ancient and immutable laws laid down by the totemic ancestors and their Dreamings.
A CoJo Production with assistance from the Film Finance Corporation Australia, 2003 55mins

In 1988 Australia celebrated the 200th Anniversary of white European settlement in Australia. Bob Maza, Mitch Torres and more… 1986 30mins (the literal translation of the title is "barbecue area". MM)

This is an account of how the Gagadju divide their year into six seasons, not measuring with a calendar as we do, but by reading the changes in the world around them. 1995 27mins

Also available is the Program Sales Indigenous Catalogue for purchasing of videos. This is a catalogue of the latest releases. We are able to send you the Acrobat file on request if you would like to have a copy. The attachment is a large PDF file and some people may find it difficult to download. Send us an email at the address below and we will forward you the attachment.

(This information comes via Message Stick Online which you can receive by e-mail, contact

MESSAGE CLUB**********  NEW!!

What is Message Club?

An ABC initiative for Indigenous children, Message Club, is an online interactive gateway, the deadliest place for 6 - 14 year olds to hang around, learn stuff and play games online. The site will grow over time but we're launching with these sections:

Didj "U" Know  Features interesting facts and feature stories about Indigenous sports people, rights, history, culture and people.

Fire Place Gallery Children send in their artworks and photos for an international online audience.

Just For Fun A fun way to encourage the development of computer and keyboarding skills. Features click n paint - an online colouring in page, Eggbert the Emu - he searches for his emu eggs in an outback Australian landscape, Print and Paint - print out and colour in, Indigenous designed ecards to send messages to friends and family, plus links to ABC's children's playground Rollercoaster and even more Games.

Good Reading A great resource of books aimed at increasing the interest and development of Indigenous childrens' reading and literacy skills.

Grown Ups Information for adults supervising children.  Adults can chat with each other, exchange information and ideas, and input into the development of Message Club by commenting in the online guestbook.



The date for this year's Garma is 6-9 August.

The Garma Festival, Australia's most significant annual indigenous cultural event, will have "Indigenous Livelihoods" as its theme in 2004, and will feature several new entertainment , cultural and educational elements, including a Leaders' and Leadership Forum involving senior national government, corporate and community figures.

This Garma Festival, the sixth, will be held, as before, at Gulkula - a place of profound meaning for Yolngu - near Nhulunbuy in north east Arnhem Land from August 6 to 9, 2004. Presented by the Yothu Yindi Foundation, Garma will again feature a vast array of music, art, and cultural workshops, forums and entertainment events. 

In announcing the theme, features and dates of this year's Garma, Mandawuy Yunupingu, Deputy Chairman and founder of the Yothu Yindi Foundation, said: "The 'Indigenous Livelihoods' theme will allow us to discuss and work on a wide range of ways to get employment and opportunities for Yolngu. It presents a valuable opportunity to nurture leadership and to sustain and share indigenous cultures.

"The forums, the learning, the entertainment, and all the other activities at Garma can be about tourism, art, music, education, culture, sport - anything which can provide real and sustainable livelihoods and results," he said. 

Garma has also become a key event for bringing together non-indigenous and indigenous Australia - with some international guests as well - to share knowledge and culture, with a strong reconciliation element, and to nurture learning and leadership skills among indigenous Australians. Garma is a "both ways" learning process.

Speaking of the Leaders forum, which was introduced to the Garma program in 2003 and will be expanded this year to feature a Leadership element, Mandawuy said, "We hope it will develop over time into a national leadership facility and institution, and we are working with government and corporate Australia to make this happen. That sort of partnership and result is what Garma is all about."

Also designed to encourage the practice, preservation and maintenance of traditional dance (bunggul), song, art and ceremony on Yolngu lands, Garma will include, as daily activities, women's workshops in pandanus weaving, bark painting, bush tucker and traditional healing practices using bush medicines; Men's activities including spear making and  hunting;  and yidaki (didjeridu) master classes. Each evening at sunset, vibrant performances of traditional dance are presented by clans from the region.

Now one of the Northern Territory's biggest events and visitor destinations, Garma will again be held immediately before the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards and the Darwin Festival, increasing the international and interstate visitor potential for the Northern Territory. The Yothu Yindi Foundation is working with the Northern Territory Government to maximise the effectiveness of closely aligning these three events.

Last year's Garma, which had a visual arts theme, was attended by about 750 non-indigenous Australians and international guests. They were joined by a similar number of Yolngu and other indigenous Australians from about 20 clan groups in local region and visitors from neighbouring parts of Arnhem Land, the Kimberley, Central desert regions and beyond.

Those attending Garma include government representatives, leaders of industry, community groups, sponsor representatives, students, musicians, media, tourist groups, artists, educators and students. However, the amount of infrastructure and utility services - supplied by Alcan, a Principal Partner of Garma - and other resources at the special bush setting of Gulkula is limited, so only a certain number of members of the wider community can register and attend, as observers and participants, under each particular category of the Festival.

As well, the structure, size and line-up of educational, cultural and entertainment activities at Garma are all designed to deliver the Yothu Yindi Foundation's central purposes - to maintain, share and celebrate Yolngu knowledge and culture, and to enable further educational, training and economic opportunities for the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land.

Already, hundreds of expressions of interest have been received by the Yothu Yindi Foundation for attendance at Garma 2004. To attend is, as Steve Liebmann said on the "Today" Show while hosting the show live from Garma, a rare privilege.

Garma is staged on Aboriginal land and permits are required.

More information regarding Garma, including categories of invitations and costs of attendance, and how to submit an expression of interest, including forms, can be gained through, or from the address below.

For more information, inquiries, and interviews: Yothu Yindi Foundation, GPO Box 2727, Darwin NT 0801. Fax (61) 08 89411088,  email,


This is mostly a summary of upcoming conferences. More details may have been given above, in previous bulletins or circulated by e-mail. A web-based contact is usually included.

April 2004

1-4 April: National Association for Research in Science Teaching, 2004 Conference meets in Vancouver, Westin Bayshore Hotel,

11-14 April: Asia Education Foundation's Third Linking Latitudes: Ha Noi, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos international conference for Australian educators,

21 - 23 April: Pacific Circle Consortium 28th Annual Conference 2004Hong Kong SAR, China. Civic Values and Social Responsibility in a Global Context. Conference Website:

May 2004

27-29 May: Indigenous Knowledges: Transforming the academy, Pennsylvania State University. Information for submitting proposals is available on the conference Web site:

June 2004

25-28 June: Science and IT Education Joint Conference, Rockhampton, QLD. 

July 2004

5-9 July: "Educating For A World View: Focus On Globalizing Curriculum and Instruction" World Council for Curriculum and Instruction (WCCI) 11th Triennial World Conference, Novotel Northbeach Hotel, Wollongong, NSW

7-10 July: Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA), 35th Annual Conference, University of New England, Armidale NSW

August 2004


September 2004

26-30 September: CONASTA 53 - Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) National Conference, Canberra ACT. Theme: Excellence in Teaching and Science

28 September - 2 October: Creating Ethical Communities Now: Footprints, Pathways, Possibilities. Adelaide, South Australia. Australian Association for Environmental Education (AAEE) together with the Asia-Pacific Network for International Education and Values Education (APNIEVE), the South Australian Global Education Centre (GEC), and Urban Ecology Australia (UEA).

July 2005

Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA), 36th Annual Conference, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

Sometime 2005 - World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education, Aotearoa New Zealand

A list of conferences is also maintained by the University of South Australia's Indigenous Online Network, at
ION Updates are released fortnightly and are forwarded to members of this Network. If you wish to receive these Updates directly or you know of other people who would like to receive them, please ask them to send a message to asking that they be included on the distribution lists. 
Anyone with information or resources they would like added to the site can email from the website or to the general ION email address.

Last updated: 28 March 2004

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